Flash floods across Jor­dan kill nine, force evac­u­a­tions

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - WORLD - By Karin Laub The As­so­ci­ated Press

AM­MAN, Jor­dan — Flash floods caused by heavy rain across Jor­dan killed nine peo­ple Fri­day and forced hun­dreds of tourists to seek higher ground in the king­dom’s an­cient city of Pe­tra, the gov­ern­ment spokes­woman said.

About two dozen peo­ple were hurt and dozens more evac­u­ated from their homes in sev­eral lo­ca­tions in the king­dom, as flood wa­ters rose rapidly.

Am­a­teur video posted on­line showed a pow­er­ful tor­rent rush­ing through the steep, nar­row canyon through which vis­i­tors reach the Trea­sury, the main at­trac­tion in Pe­tra, an an­cient trad­ing hub carved from rose-col­ored rock.

The video showed sev­eral hun­dred vis­i­tors crowded on a patch of higher ground near the Trea­sury as lo­cal guides helped one woman through surg­ing wa­ter to­ward safety.

“We made it,” she shouted as she re­joined her group.

Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman Ju­mana Ghuneimat said two dozen peo­ple were in­jured and dozens more evac­u­ated as homes were flooded in sev­eral lo­ca­tions. Else­where, ris­ing wa­ter lev­els forced the clo­sure of a desert high­way.

Fri­day’s floods came just two weeks af­ter 21 peo­ple, many of them mid­dle school stu­dents, were killed in a flash flood near the Jor­da­nian shore of the Dead Sea. The ed­u­ca­tion and tourism min­is­ters re­signed af­ter the in­ci­dent.

Tor­ren­tial rains and flood­ing be­gan Fri­day af­ter­noon. In Wadi Musa, the town next to Pe­tra in south­ern Jor­dan, wa­ter surged from nearby moun­tains into a dry riverbed run­ning through the com­mu­nity.

Ahmed Shamaseen, 29, owner of the Pe­tra Har­mony guest house, told The As­so­ci­ated Press he heard a thun­der­ous sound, ran out­side and saw wa­ter car­ry­ing tree stumps, rocks and de­bris rush­ing through the riverbed to­ward an­cient Pe­tra. He said sev­eral shops near the Pe­tra vis­i­tors’ cen­ter were badly dam­aged by flood­ing.

Shamaseen said a cou­ple from the Nether­lands and their one-year-old child were tour­ing Pe­tra when the flood­ing be­gan. He says the cou­ple told him af­ter their re­turn to the guest­house that they had to climb to higher ground to evade the wa­ter.

Ghuneimat said more than 3,600 tourists vis­ited Pe­tra on Fri­day, and that ef­forts were con­tin­u­ing to evac­u­ate them.

She said nine peo­ple were killed Fri­day in other areas of Jor­dan.

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