World News

A flash flood in Jordan forced more than 1,000 people to evacuate a world heritage site


In southern Jordan, violent floods have ravaged the ancient city of Petra, prompting the evacuation of 1,700 tourists from the Unesco world heritage site.

Videos uploaded on Monday showed brown water cascading down the steep cliffs surrounding Petra’s ancient rock-cut Nabatean temple known as “the Treasury,” the most well-known feature of the 260-square-kilometer site.

As the site’s small corridors, especially the famous Siq, mimic rivers, tourists in raincoats are observed looking perplexed and loading onto pick-up trucks.

Amman Net reports that three persons were injured when a minivan was overturned by flooding in the neighbouring Maan governorate, also in the south of the country.

The chief of Jordan’s meteorological department, Raed Khattab, told the Petra news agency that southern Jordan was suffering the most rainfall.

The directorate of public security in Jordan, which issued a weather alert on Saturday, reported that there were also landslides and rockfalls on the route that runs along the Dead Sea.

In 2018, 12 people were murdered by flooding in Petra, weeks after 21 people, mostly schoolchildren on a field trip, were killed by flooding in the kingdom’s Dead Sea region.

In 1963, a catastrophic flood in Petra claimed the lives of 22 French visitors and their Jordanian guide.

Following this tragedy, Jordanian authorities constructed a dike to prevent water from entering the area surrounding the Treasury. In 2014, a warning system for hazardous water levels was added.

The temples and mausoleums of Petra, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1985, attract hundreds of thousands of tourists annually.

The majority of its structures, which are carved into cliffs, have used as filming locations for various Hollywood blockbusters, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Throughout recent days, heavy rainfall has caused floods elsewhere in the Middle East.

Following a night of torrential rain, flash floods struck Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Friday morning, damaging vehicles and property in the holy city.

Rain also pounded Baghdad and other parts of Iraq on Saturday, prompting municipal employees to pump water from the streets of the capital.

The United Arab Emirates, Gaza, and Alexandria were also affected by flooding.