The death toll from flash floods in Jordan rose to 12 on Saturday and the kingdom's main tourist attraction, the ancient city of Petra, was closed for cleanup after what local officials said was the biggest deluge in the area in decades.
Friday's floods came two weeks after 21 people, including middle school students, were killed in flash floods near the Dead Sea. Politicians and members of the public criticised the emergency services at the time, saying crews had been unprepared, and two ministers were forced to resign after a parliamentary committee found negligence. At least nine others have been wounded.
A civil defence spokeswoman told AFP news agency on Friday that a child was among the seven people killed by floods in the Dabaa region, south of Amman.More news: Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez makes unexpected Silver Slugger history
She said that searches for missing people are ongoing.
The Jordanian army deployed helicopters and all-terrain vehicles to help with search and rescue operations after floodwaters cut off the Desert Highway in both directions.
In the Mlaih district of the Madaba governorate, where a young girl was killed when her family's auto was swept away by flood waters, rescue teams and divers were on the scene searching for other missing people, Jordan's official Petra news agency reported.More news: Australia launches $1.5 bln Pacific fund to counter China’s influence
The Madaba region, the Maan governorate and the ancient city of Petra were among the areas hit hardest by Friday's storms.
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. Schools and universities across the Kingdom announced Saturday off due to the prevailing harsh weather.
Authorities declared a state of emergency in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba, also in the country's south, as heavy downpours started there in the afternoon.More news: Salem’s Satanic Temple sues Netflix for $150 million
In Petra, the ancient trade hub carved into rose-hued rocks, heavy rains began at around 1 p.m. Friday and last for about 40 minutes, said Rafael Dorado, 41, a tourist from Spain.