• Floods kill 9 in Jordan, visitors seek high ground in Petra

    By: KARIN LAUB, Associated Press

    Updated:
    AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - 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.

    In one incident in a village in the Madaba region, south of the capital of Amman, flooding swept away a vehicle carrying members of one family, Civil Defense officials said. An 11-year-old girl was killed, another girl was seriously injured and divers were searching for three other members of the family. One of the divers involved in rescue efforts was killed.

    In the Dabaa area, also south of Amman, two women and a girl were killed in the floods which also forced the closure of a desert highway. A large number of cars were stuck, Ghuneimat said.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City and Omar Akour in Amman contributed to this report.

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