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Flashflood search operation concludes with recovery of 5-year-old girl's body

Jordanians receive warning messages regarding unstable weather conditions, possibility of floods

By Hana Namrouqa - Nov 13,2018 - Last updated at Nov 13,2018

A military helicopter assists in the search operation for missing people in areas that were hit by heavy rain and flashfloods on Saturday (JT file photo)

AMMAN — The body of a 5-year-old girl who went missing in Friday’s flashfloods in Mleih in Madaba Governorate was recovered on Monday morning, ending a four-day search operation for missing people, according to the Civil Defence Department (CDD).

The recovery of the girl's body pushed the death toll of the killer flashfloods to 13, including a CDD diver, according to a CDD officer, who said that thousands of people and foreign tourists were evacuated between Friday and Saturday, while some 29 people were injured.

The flashfloods that followed heavy rain on Friday noon swept the body of the girl 20 kilometres away from the site where her family’s vehicle was caught in rapid floods, killing her father and four of her sisters.

CDD Director Maj. Gen. Mustafa Bazayah said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times that more than 500 CDD recruits, in cooperation with the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF), the Public Security Department and the Gendarmerie, participated in the search and rescue operation for the missing girl.

“The search stretched over 30 kilometres in three areas, starting with Al Rashideyeh Bridge [near which the girl was found], passing by the area of the stone quarries and ending in Wadi Al Heidan. In addition, search teams, assisted by Royal Navy boats and a JAF helicopter, searched the Dead Sea,” Bazayah said in the statement.

The CDD officer highlighted that the search operation was difficult and challenging; as authorities had to redirect the path of floods, especially in the stone quarries area, in search for the girl, noting that sniffer dogs were deployed in the search operation in areas where the water level was receding.

Also on Monday, a Gendarmerie unit rescued three children caught in floods in Ghadeer Al Abyad area in Mafraq, while inspecting the situation in areas where water is gathering, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

In the statement, Bazayah expressed his appreciation to people who assisted the CDD and authorities in the search and rescue of trapped and missing people, underscoring the challenge of tough conditions, deep mud, difficult topography and areas prone to landslides.

Unstable weather that started on Friday at noon brought heavy torrential rain, causing flashfloods in different parts of the country. The floods swamped several parts of the country following the heavy rain. The CDD rescued more than 1,100 people caught in the floods.

This was the second time in three weeks that the Kingdom witnessed killer flashfloods. On October 25, flashfloods following 15 minutes of quick rain killed 21 people in the Dead Sea area, 16 of whom were students hiking in Zarqa-Maeen Valley while on a school trip to the site.

The weekend’s floods inundated several touristic sites, swamped houses and swept away moving cars. The strong flashfloods also brought traffic on the busy Desert Highway, linking Amman and the north to the southern region, to a complete halt.

Some 1,245 personnel from different state agencies, including the CDD, JAF and the Public Security Department, took part in the search and rescue operations across the country. The army dispatched reconnaissance aircraft, boats, military trucks, vehicles and machinery to assist in the rescue and search operations, Petra reported.

Meanwhile, the ICT Ministry on Monday sent warning messages to citizens regarding unstable weather conditions forecast for Tuesday, and the possibility of floods, according to Petra.

ICT Minister Muthana Gharaibeh said that the ministry sent text messages to 2.5 million cellphone numbers so far, noting that all cellphone carriers were to receive similar warning messages.

The Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD) said on Sunday that the country is yet to experience another state of unstable weather conditions on Tuesday, which will be followed by a depression the next day.

The JMD expected heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, warning people to stay away from valleys and waterways and to relocate from low-lying areas to avoid getting caught in flashfloods.

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