At least 7 dead after new round of flash floods hit Jordan
Jordanian civil defence members looked for survivors after heavy rain unleashed flash floods near the Dead Sea last month (Reuters)
Flash floods killed at least seven people across Jordan on Friday, the government and civil defence said, while at least five other people were reported missing.
Heavy rains and flooding also forced the Jordanian authorities to evacuate over 3,700 tourists from the world-famous historic site of Petra.
Jordan has seen a series of deadly floods in recent weeks, including one in late October that swept away a school bus near the Dead Sea, killing 21 people, mostly schoolchildren.
The latest downpours hit southern Jordan and claimed seven lives, including two children, government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said on Friday.
"Heavy rainfall in the Dabaa region (south of Amman) prompted the closure of the desert highway (leading to the south of the country) in both directions after the area was flooded," said Ghneimat.
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A civil defence source told AFP that another child died in the Madaba area, also south of Amman, when the car the child was in was submerged in water.
"Rescuers are searching for five people who are missing in that area," the source said.
The authorities declared a state of emergency in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba, also in the country's south, as heavy downpours started there in the afternoon.
Jordanian army troops deployed helicopters and armoured vehicles to help search for the missing and assist residents threatened by the floods, state television reported.
Authorities evacuated 3,762 tourists from the ancient city of Petra, an archeological site and key tourist destination in southern Jordan, due to the bad weather, Ghneimat said.
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The floodwater in Petra and in some parts of the nearby Wadi Mussa desert had risen to between three and four metres high and flooded the main roads, Jordan's state television reported.
It broadcast footage showing people standing on both sides of the main road in Petra and along the desert highway trying to stay clear of the floods.
Ghneimat urged residents of the stricken areas and in low-lying regions to evacuate their homes, saying that heavy rains were expected to continue to lash Jordan Friday night and Saturday.
Jordan's ministry of education also announced that schools across the country would be closed on Sunday.
Last week, Jordan's education and tourism ministers resigned following the deaths of 21 people, mostly schoolchildren on an outing, who were swept away in flash floods near the Dead Sea in late October, state media said.
A parliamentary committee formed to investigate the 25 October incident found that some Jordanian ministries were negligent and has prompted questions over how prepared government agencies are to handle such emergencies.