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Measures on Dead Sea tragedy announced

By JT - Mar 20,2019 - Last updated at Mar 21,2019

AMMAN — The government on Wednesday announced the measures it implemented in accordance with reports and recommendations by committees formed to investigate last year’s Dead Sea tragedy that killed 21 people, mostly schoolchildren.

During a press conference at the Prime Ministry to announce the measures, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat said that "the government is morally and politically responsible for what happened".

On the education front, Minister of Education and Higher Education Walid Maani said that the ministry amended regulations governing school trips to stipulate a specific timeline during the school year — from March 21 to May 15 — during which school trips are allowed, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The amendments also compel schools to acquire education directorates’ approval for any school trip through two stages; once two weeks ahead of the planned trip, and again two days before it takes place, as well as providing the directorate with the list of participating students along with their parental approval, among other technical information.

The new regulations also specified areas where school trips are allowed to take place, banned adventure tourism trips for all schools and restricted primary school trips to the governorate in which the school is located, Maani added.

For his part, Interior Minister Samir Mubaidin announced that in accordance with the committees’ recommendations, the Civil Defence Department (CDD) is currently working on establishing a site to train divers on rescue operations, as well as floating a tender to purchase advanced boats and equipment.

Mubaidin said that, in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry, areas where tourism is prohibited were identified across the Kingdom, and regulations and coordination with the Public Security Department in this regard were applied, according to Petra.

The minister said he had also directed governors and administrative directors to study power overlaps in governorates’ administrative units, and their recommendations were referred to the Prime Ministry. 

Ghunaimat stressed that a number of measures were taken by the Jordan Meteorological Department to develop the weather forecast by including new content, preparing detailed reports on weather conditions, activating the early warning system and directly sending text messages to citizens to warn of weather instability.

Regarding the tourism sector, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Majd Shweikeh said that the ministry, in implementation of the recommendations received by the government from the committees, revisited pieces of legislation governing tourism in Jordan, including tourism activities in valleys, to develop them in a way that ultimately achieves public safety.

She added that a system for tourist guidance will be issued to identify specialised definitions for tour guides, in addition to institutionalising new tourist offices that are specialised in adventure tourism.

As for the health sector’s response to crises, Minister of Health Ghazi Zaben said that the ministry has increased the number of its personnel in the field of first aid and emergency response to boost coordination with CDD’s cadres when such incidents occur.

He added that the ministry formed a team to provide psychological support to families of victims, noting that there is a plan to build a “sophisticated” pathology centre outside the campus of Al Bashir Hospital.

For his part, Minister of Public Works and Housing Falah Omoush said that the ministry floated a number of tenders for the rehabilitation, maintenance and renovation of bridges located on the road from Dead Sea to Aqaba at a financial cost of JD11 million, noting that the company that was awarded the tender has already began its execution, 

The ministry also floated tenders for the rehabilitation and maintenance of bridges affected by the floods, Omoush added.

Flashfloods that formed after quick heavy rain in October of last year at the Dead Sea area swept 21 people to their death and injured 43 people. The majority of the victims were schoolchildren who were on a school trip to the Zarqa-Maeen Valley.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, three committees were formed; a royal committee, a technical one and a parliamentary panel, to investigate the causes of the incident and offer recommendations to the government on managing such crises.



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