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Jordan ministers resign over fatal Dead Sea floods

Jordan's education and tourism ministers resign after flash floods killed 21 people, mostly schoolchildren, last week
Civil defence members in Jordan look for survivors after rainstorms unleashed flash floods near Dead Sea in late October (Reuters)

Jordan's education and tourism ministers resigned on Thursday following the deaths of 21 people, mostly schoolchildren on an outing, who were swept away in flash floods near the Dead Sea last week, state media said.

A parliamentary committee formed to investigate the 25 October incident found that some Jordanian ministries were negligent and has prompted questions over how prepared government agencies are to handle such emergencies.

"Education Minister Azmi Mahafzah and Tourism Minister Lina Annab today submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz," a Jordanian official told AFP.

State media similarly reported that the two ministers had tendered their resignations.

The resignations followed widespread shock after a school outing was caught up in a flash flood, and dozens swept away.

Pupils, their teachers and minders had stepped out of their bus in a tourist area called Al-Miyah al-Sakhina when they were hit by a flood that washed them towards the sea.

Twenty-one people were killed in the incident, while 37 others were rescued in a major operation involving helicopters and divers.

Annab wrote on Twitter that she was stepping down "in the shadow of the general political climate and the painful period".

Jordan: Flash flood sweeps away school bus, kills at least 20
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Several members of Jordan's parliament called earlier this week for the two ministers to be dismissed because the outing had been authorised in spite of warnings of bad weather.

King Abdullah, who described the disaster as a "huge tragedy," also called on Thursday for an independent committee to be set up to investigate what happened and establish who was to blame.

The floods, which followed torrential rains, poured through valleys and deep ravines, sweeping people, vehicles and livestock to the shores of the Dead Sea.