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.

 


Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

Pro-government drive in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 31 min 34 sec ago
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Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

  • Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week

SANAA: Iran-backed Houthi militias have said they are ready to mobilize more fighters to the frontline despite a lull in battleground Hodeidah, as the UN envoy prepares to visit the country to boost peace efforts.

Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday, apparently getting ready to head toward Hodeidah, a Red Sea city home to a vital port.

Men, some of whom looked very young, were lining up with bandoliers around their shoulders and rifles in their hands, chanting Houthi slogans.

Residents said on Sunday that relative calm had held in Hodeidah city since pro-government forces announced a pause in their offensive last week amid international calls for a cease-fire and UN-led peace efforts.  They added, however, that they remain on edge.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week to finalize arrangements for peace talks to take place in Sweden soon.

Hameed Assem, a member of the militia delegation expected to take part in the negotiations, said that Houthis will continue to mobilize if UN efforts for peace fail to materialize.

Pro-government forces on Wednesday suspended their 12-day offensive in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said on Friday that both the government and the Houthis have shown a “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution and have given “firm assurances” that they will attend the talks. No date has yet been set.