Major flash floods hit ancient city of Petra, Jordan

Major flash floods hit ancient city of Petra, Jordan

Heavy rain caused severe flash flooding in Jordan's ancient city of Petra, the kingdom's main tourist attraction, on Friday, November 9, 2018. Nearly 4 000 people were forced to evacuate. At least 12 people were killed in the country's central and southern regions. 14 are reportedly missing in Al-Jafr in Ma'an Governorate.

According to state media and Jordanian government spokesman, Petra is closed for cleanup after 'biggest deluge in the area in decades.' Authorities said the site will remain closed on November 10 and likely reopen November 11.

"It's surprising how huge the flood was. I've never seen flooding of such intensity," Petra's chief administrator said.

Heavy rain began around 13:00 LT, November 9 and lasted for about 40 minutes, a tourist from Spain told AP.

At about 15:00 LT, a torrent of water came gushing through the site's steep and narrow access canyon, flooding the area within minutes.

He said he was observing the flood from a hilltop temple, adding he saw other visitors running to higher ground.

In some areas, floodwaters rose up to 4 m (13 feet).

"The crews of Petra archaeological Park and the security forces in the region had evacuated more than 3 500 visitors from the site of Petra to the visitor center (the safe point)," Park officials said in a press release.

"We are really glad to announce that all the visitors are safe and no missing or bad injuries reports. The site is going to reopen Sunday, November 11 and all the services are going to be available as usual."

At least 12 people have lost their lives in central and southern regions of Jodan. 

Minister of State for Media Affairs said in a statement that the death toll has risen to 12 (7 in Madaba; 4 in the Dhaba’ area on the Desert Highway and 1 in the southern governorate of Ma’an). 

A total of 29 people were injured in the flash floods, including 8 Civil Defense and Public Security departments personnel. Emergency teams are are still searching for 14 missing people in Al-Jafr in Ma’an Governorate, the FloodList reports.

The event comes just two weeks after 21 people drowned in a flash flood in the Dead Sea area. Though the final cause of death was drowning, all of the victims suffered from broken bones and other injuries because they were hit by huge boulders as they were being swept away by the flash flood.


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Featured image: Major flash flood hit the ancient city of Petra, Jordan on November 9, 2018. Credit: Tetova News

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