Georgian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Dimitry Kumsishvili held a press conference today to announce initial findings of an investigation into the rollback of a 2007 Doppelmayr quad chair at the Gudauri ski resort, which injured 11 people a week ago. French firm Bureau Veritas confirmed the lift’s initial stop was caused by a power outage. “After the chairlift was stopped, the operator had to introduce specific sequence of procedures and after implementation of the certain actions, the operator had to switch the chairlift on to the diesel generator power and bring the tourist to the safe site,” a translated press release reads. “Unfortunately, according to the current conclusion, the operator made a mistake. The combination of the actions that he should have had carried out were not implemented in compliance with the relevant instructions – it was a human error.”
The report notes the chairlift had undergone an inspection in December and was in “perfect technical order.” The operator on duty at the time has been fired and may face criminal charges at the conclusion of the investigation. The Head of Gudauri Mountain Management and Deputy Director of the Mountain Resort Development Company have both resigned in the wake of the incident. Georgia is in active talks to retrain employees from Gudauri and other ski areas, though staff had been to training courses at Doppelmayr headquarters in Austria in 2017 and Poma was on site offering training opportunities as recently as January. The government says there are 15 total chairlifts in the country that are “in line with the world’s advanced standards.” A statement from Doppelmayr linking to the release notes, “We hope that the injured persons are getting well soon. This remains the most important point at the moment.” According to Minister Kumsishvili, all of those injured have been released from hospitals and invited to return to ski next year for free.