Flash floods in Jordan kill seven people

Jordan braces itself for severe weather conditions

Among those confirmed dead after torrential rains swept the south of the kingdom were six people found in the Madaba area southwest of the capital Amman. He said some visitors were later evacuated by trucks and others made their way out on foot.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, Petra draws hundreds of thousands of tourists a year to its rock-hewn treasury, temples and mausoleums.

It comes two weeks after 21 people, mostly children, drowned in a flash flood in the Dead Sea area.

The latest downpours hit the south of the desert kingdom claiming seven lives, government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said.

Ongoing rainfall in the Daba'a region of southern Jordan also led to the closure of the desert highway in both directions, said Ghuneimat.

The spokeswoman said more than 3,600 tourists visited Petra on Friday, and that efforts were continuing to evacuate them.

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Jordanian army troops deployed helicopters and armoured vehicles to help search for the missing and assist residents threatened by the floods, state television reported.

Dr Suleiman Farajat, Chief Commissioner of the Petra Authority, said the city itself had fortunately not suffered that much damage.

Saturday's reports came a day after floods struck in several areas of Jordan, including Petra, an ancient trading hub carved into rose-colored rock.

It broadcast footage of tourists sheltering on high ground on both sides of the access road to Jordan's biggest attraction.

Ghneimat urged residents of the stricken areas and in low-lying regions to evacuate their homes, saying that heavy rains were expected to continue to lash Jordan Friday night and Saturday.

Jordan's ministry of education announced that schools across the country would be closed on Sunday. There was a public outcry last month after 18 children on a school trip were swept away, leading to the resignation of the country's education and tourism ministers.

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