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Georgia: 17 people killed after minibus crashes down mountain

Georgia has declared a day of mourning for Tuesday in memory of 17 victims who died in a minibus accident on Sunday.

The bus left the Mtskheta-Mtianeti road in the Caucasus mountains and fell 80 metres down the cliffs. The crash took place near the village of Biso in Dusheti Municipality.

Three other occupants were seriously injured, according to a statement by the country's Interior Ministry.

Firefighters immediately evacuated the three injured people and they were transferred to hospital, where they remain "under the supervision of doctors".

Investigators are working Monday to establish the cause of the accident.

The initial rescue operation was supervised by the country's Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Ioseb Chelidze, and the Head of the Emergency Management Service, Temur Mghebrishvili.

Emergency services continued to work at the scene on Sunday despite difficult terrain and weather conditions.

On Tuesday, flags will be flown at half-mast on official Georgian buildings to mark the day of mourning.

Traffic accidents in Georgia are commonplace, and the country ranks among the deadliest, according to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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