Pe­tra shut as flood toll rises to 12

Khaleej Times - - MIDDLE EAST - In­di­ana Jones Last Cru­sade. AFP, AP

amman — Flash floods killed 12 peo­ple in Jor­dan and forced nearly 4,000 tourists to flee the famed an­cient desert city of Pe­tra, emer­gency ser­vices said on Satur­day.

Search teams were scour­ing val­leys near the his­toric hill town of Mad­aba for two young girls still miss­ing after Fri­day’s floods, civil de­fence spokesman Iyad Amru told state tele­vi­sion in an up­date.

Five peo­ple have al­ready been con­firmed dead in the area south­west of the cap­i­tal Amman after tor­ren­tial rains swept the south of the king­dom.

To the east, three peo­ple were killed near Dabaa on the Desert High­way, one of Jor­dan’s three main north-south ar­ter­ies, while one was killed near Maan in the south.

Govern­ment spokes­woman Ju­mana Gh­neimat said the high­way was cut in both di­rec­tions. “It’s re­ally, I wouldn’t say scary, but sur­pris­ing how huge the flood was,” he said.

The Jor­da­nian army de­ployed he­li­copters and all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles to help with the search and res­cue op­er­a­tion. A res­cuer was also among the dead, the civil de­fence spokesman said.

State tele­vi­sion said the wa­ters had reached as high as four me­tres in parts of the red-rock ravine city of Pe­tra and the ad­ja­cent Wadi Musa desert.

It broad­cast footage of tourists shel­ter­ing on high ground on both sides of the ac­cess road to Jor­dan’s big­gest at­trac­tion. The govern­ment spokes­woman said 3,762 tourists were evac­u­ated. Sep­a­rately, Is­rael’s pub­lic ra­dio said con­tact had been lost with three Is­raeli tourists in south­ern Jor­dan.

The Ara­bic-lan­guage Makan Ra­dio said the tourists had last been heard from in the Wadi Rum area, an­other ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion. Des­ig­nated a Un­esco world her­itage site in 1985, Pe­tra draws hun­dreds of thou­sands of tourists a year to its rock-hewn trea­sury, tem­ples and mau­soleums.

Its build­ings have been used as sets for sev­eral Hol­ly­wood block­busters in­clud­ing and the The lat­est deaths come after Oc­to­ber 25 flash floods in the Dead Sea re­gion of the king­dom killed 21 peo­ple, most of them chil­dren on a school trip. Jor­dan’s ed­u­ca­tion and tourism min­is­ters both re­signed last week over fail­ings in the govern­ment’s re­sponse to those floods.

The ed­u­ca­tion min­istry or­dered schools closed na­tion­wide on Satur­day. —

Reuters

Civil de­fence mem­bers look for miss­ing per­sons in Mad­aba city near Amman on Satur­day. —

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