Floods kill 12 in Jordan and force tourists to flee Petra

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People look for missing persons after rain storms unleashed flash floods, in Madaba city, near Amman, Jordan, November 10, 2018. (Reuters)
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Civil defense members look for missing persons after rain storms unleashed flash floods, in Madaba city, near Amman, Jordan, November 10, 2018. (Reuters)
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Jordanian rescue teams search for missing persons following flash floods in the city of Madaba near the capital Jordan on November 10, 2018. (AFP / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
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A picture taken on November 10, 2018 shows a car submerged in mud following flash floods in the city of Madaba near the capital Jordan. (AFP / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
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Flash floods swept Jordan on Friday. (Twitter)
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Civil defense members look for missing persons after rain storms unleashed flash floods, in Madaba city, near Amman, Jordan, November 10, 2018. (Reuters)
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Civil defense members look for missing persons after rain storms unleashed flash floods, in Madaba city, near Amman, Jordan, November 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 November 2018
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Floods kill 12 in Jordan and force tourists to flee Petra

  • Two women and a girl died in severe floods in Dabaa, and another girl died in Madaba
  • Floods come two weeks after 21 people, mostly children, were killed in flash floods near the Dead Sea

AMMAN:  The death toll from flash floods in Jordan rose to 12 on Saturday and nearly 4,000 tourists were evacuated from the ancient city of Petra amid a four-meter-high deluge.

In the southern town of Maan, authorities opened a shelter for dozens of people whose homes were surrounded by water.

The 12 people who died included two children and a diver who had been taking part in rescue efforts. Two of the bodies were found on Saturday.

Among those confirmed dead were six people found in the Madaba area southwest of the capital, Amman. To the east, three people were killed near Dabaa on the Desert Highway, and one was killed near Maan in the south. 

Search teams were scouring valleys near the historic hill town of Madaba for a young girl who was still missing, civil defense spokesman Iyad Amru said.

 

The Jordanian Army deployed helicopters and all-terrain vehicles to help with search and rescue operations after floodwater cut off the Desert Highway.

Authorities banned all tourist trips and declared a state of emergency in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba as the downpour continued.

The latest torrent came two weeks after 21 people, most of them children, were killed in flash floods near the Dead Sea. The tourism and education ministers resigned over the Dead Sea flooding.

The water reached as high as four meters on Friday in parts of Petra and the adjacent Wadi Musa desert. 

Jordan's state news agency Petra quoted government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat as saying that evacuations will be carried out in coordination with the local councils of municipalities and provinces, directors of public works and public security, and the civil defense.

Scores of people were injured and dozens more evacuated as homes were flooded.

Friday's floods came two weeks after 21 people, including middle school students, were killed in flash floods near the Dead Sea. Jordan's tourism and education ministers resigned after the incident.

In Petra, Jordan’s leading tourist attraction, heavy rain began at about 1 p.m. and lasted for about 40 minutes. 

At about 3 p.m. a torrent of water came gushing through the site’s steep and narrow access canyon, flooding the area within minutes, said Rafael Dorado, 41, a tourist from Spain. 

He watched from a hilltop temple in the area, and saw other visitors scrambling to higher ground. Some were evacuated by trucks and others made their way out on foot.

Suleiman Farajat, the chief administrator in Petra, said the site would remain closed on Saturday for clearing-up operations, but would probably reopen on Sunday. He had never seen flooding of such intensity. “It’s really, I wouldn’t say scary, but surprising how huge the flood was,” he said.

Elsewhere, rising water levels forced the closure of a desert highway. And in Mafraq province, officials said most of the people living near rivers and valleys had been evacuated to higher ground.

Ghunaimat says several people are missing and that searches are continuing.

 

 

In Kuwait, flash floods after heavy rain killed a 30-year-old man on Saturday and damaged roads, bridges and homes. The man who died was swept away as he tried to rescue his family from their submerged home.

Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah chaired an emergency Cabinet meeting, and schools will be closed on Sunday as a precaution.

 


Latest Gaza flare-up: What does it mean for the blockaded strip?

This cease-fire, like others before it, is fragile and could easily be derailed. (AFP)
Updated 18 November 2018
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Latest Gaza flare-up: What does it mean for the blockaded strip?

  • “Unfortunately aggression against the Palestinian people will continue.”
  • Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in Gaza since 2008

AFP JERUSALEM: A truce in Gaza has left Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu battling to keep his government afloat after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman walked out in protest.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, welcomed Lieberman’s resignation on Wednesday as a “victory” — but what will it mean for Gaza?

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in Gaza since 2008, interspersed with simmering hostilities and periodic spikes in violence.

Hamas refuses to recognize Israel. The Jewish state, like the US and the EU, defines Hamas as a “terrorist” organization. For over a decade Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on the coastal strip.

An apparently botched Israeli army raid into the Gaza Strip triggered the worst escalation in violence since 2014 and brought the two sides to the brink of war.

On Tuesday, Hamas and Israel accepted an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire. Denouncing it as “capitulation,” Lieberman resigned from his post the next day, leaving the government with a majority of just one seat in Parliament.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad declared the cease-fire with military powerhouse Israel “a political victory.”

It came after Israel in October allowed Qatar to provide Gaza with fuel to help ease its chronic electricity crisis, under a UN-brokered deal.

In parallel, Egypt and the UN have been seeking to broker a long-term Gaza-Israel truce in exchange for Israel easing its embargo.

The events of the past week gave a boost to Hamas and its allies, said Gaza political analyst Mukhaimer Abu Saada. “But if there is a war that could change,” he said.

After the pounding Gaza took in 2014, most residents want above all to avoid a rerun. Indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas have eroded the status of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

A peace initiative by US President Donald Trump is expected to emerge in the next few months. The PA fears that it will drive the wedge even deeper between Gaza the West Bank, two territories long envisaged as part of a unified Palestinian state.

Jamal Al-Fadi, a professor of political science in Gaza, says such a divide suits Israel. “We can not have results against Israel except by unity,” he said.

This cease-fire, like others before it, is fragile and could easily be derailed.

With the Israeli political tensions unleashed by Lieberman’s departure, there will be fresh domestic pressure on Netanyahu to hit Hamas harder.

“The coming days will be difficult” for Gaza, Al-Fadi said.

“It was a right-wing government and the (next) elections will bring another right-wing government,” he said.

“Unfortunately aggression against the Palestinian people will continue.”