AMMAN, Jordan – Sudden flooding caused by heavy rains in Jordan killed nine people on Friday and forced hundreds of tourists to seek more land in the ancient city of Petra in the kingdom, government spokesman said.
About two dozen people have been injured and dozens of people have been evacuated from their homes in different locations of the kingdom, while flood waters have increased rapidly.
Amateur videos published online showed a powerful stream whizzing through the narrow, narrow canyon through which visitors reached the Treasure, the main attraction of Petra, an ancient trading center carved into the pink rock.
The video showed several hundred crowded visitors on a higher land area near the Treasury, as local guides helped a woman lift the waters to safety.
"We did it," he shouted as he rejoined his group.
Government spokesman Jumana Ghuneimat said two dozen people were injured and a dozen others were evacuated because homes were flooded in several locations. Elsewhere, the rise in water levels forced the closure of a deserted highway.
The Friday floods came just two weeks after 21 people, many of them middle school students, were killed in a sudden flood near the Jordanian coast of the Dead Sea. Education and tourism ministers resigned after the accident.
Torrential rains and floods began Friday afternoon. In Wadi Musa, the city near Petra, in southern Jordan, water poured from the nearby mountains to a dry river that ran through the community.
Ahmed Shamaseen, 29, owner of the Petra Harmony board, told the Associated Press he heard a thunderous sound, ran out and saw the water carry tree trunks, rocks and debris that they flowed across the riverbed to the ancient Petra. He said that several stores near the visitor center in Petra were badly damaged by flooding.
Shamaseen said that a couple from the Netherlands and their one-year-old boy were on tour in Petra when the flood started. He says that the couple told him after their retirement that they had to climb to higher ground to escape the water.
Ghuneimat said that more than 3,600 tourists visited Petra on Friday and that efforts continue to evacuate them.
He said nine people were killed on Friday in other areas of Jordan.
In an accident in a village in the Madaba region, south of the capital of Amman, floods swept away a vehicle carrying family members, civil defense officials said. An 11-year-old girl was killed, another girl was seriously injured and divers are looking for three other family members. One of the divers involved in the rescue efforts was killed.
In the Dabaa area, also south of Amman, two women and a girl were killed in the floods that also forced the closure of a deserted highway. A large number of cars were blocked, Ghuneimat said.
Associate writer Fares Akram in Gaza City and Omar Akour in Amman contributed to this relationship.
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