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Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Saturday, 9 August 2008 09:51 UK

Eyewitness: Scenes of panic in Gori

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Georgian troops carry the wounded in Gori

Russian jets have bombed targets in the Georgian town of Gori, about 25km (15 miles) from the intense fighting in South Ossetia. Here the BBC's Richard Galpin describes chaotic scenes in Gori on Saturday.

We saw the impact of the air strikes - buildings on fire. We could hear the Russian jets above us. In one air strike the pilot missed the intended military base, instead hitting two apartment blocks.

When we arrived flames were pouring out of the buildings and people were still trapped inside. A woman begged the firemen and soldiers around her to help find her family. She said she'd gone into the burning apartment block but had not been able to find them.

We saw injured civilians being pulled from the buildings. There were clearly a number of serious injuries. We were told by Georgian soldiers at the scene that civilians had been killed in these apartment blocks and we saw at least one man pulled out dead.

One air strike had hit a military base, where apparently most of the soldiers had managed to get out before the bombs landed.

Georgian soldiers told the BBC the targets were military bases in the town. There are three military bases, where thousands of Georgian troops are currently stationed.

We were told the main hospital had filled up with casualties. There were scenes of panic in the town. Large numbers of troops were also searching for shelter. Soldiers were running through the streets and civilians fleeing for safety. There were also large plumes of smoke rising above Gori.

All night we've seen a very large number of Georgian troops pour into this town. Some of them are reservists, which means there is mass mobilisation going on in this country.

So far the worst situation is within South Ossetia. There has been a huge bombardment of the provincial capital Tskhinvali in the past 48 hours. People are having to live in shelters there for a long time. There is also a lot of fighting in the villages around Tskhinvali. The South Ossetians claimed 1,400 people had been killed in the first 24 hours. The Georgians say that figure is nonsense.

Hospitals here have filled up with casualties. At least 100 people were taken in with injuries. We were told about 30 Georgians had been killed - we assumed soldiers, but we're not sure if that's correct. On the road from Tbilisi to here there were lots of ambulances going back and forth, presumably taking injured people to hospitals in the Georgian capital.

There are claims from the Georgian side that several Georgian military bases were bombed by Russian aircraft and a port in the south of the country, on the Black Sea coast a long way from here. Clearly the Russians are choosing a lot of targets around the country.

Georgia map




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