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At least seven dead after new round of flash floods hit Jordan

More than 3,700 tourists were evacuated from Petra amid inclement weather, according to Jordan's civil defence agency
Jordanian civil defence members look for survivors after heavy rain unleashed flash floods near Dead Sea last month (Reuters)

Flash floods killed at least seven people in Jordan on Friday, according to the government and civil defence agency, while at least five other people were reported missing.

Heavy rains and flooding forced Jordanian authorities to evacuate more than 3,700 tourists from the historic site of Petra.

Jordan has seen a series of deadly floods in recent weeks, including one in late October that swept away a school bus near the Dead Sea, killing 21 people, mostly schoolchildren.

Friday's downpour rolled across southern Jordan, claiming seven lives, including two children, government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said on Friday.

"Heavy rainfall in the Dabaa region (south of Amman) prompted the closure of the desert highway (leading to the south of the country) in both directions after the area was flooded," said Ghneimat.

A civil defence source told AFP that another child died in the Madaba area, also south of Amman, when the car the child was in was submerged in water.

"Rescuers are searching for five people who are missing in that area," the source said.

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.

Jordanian army troops deployed helicopters and armoured vehicles to help search for the missing and assist residents threatened by the floods, state television reported.

Authorities evacuated 3,762 tourists from the ancient city of Petra, an archeological site and key tourist destination in southern Jordan, amid the bad weather, Ghneimat said.

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Floodwaters in Petra and in some parts of the nearby Wadi Mussa desert had risen to almost four metres high and innudated the main roads, Jordan's state television reported.

It broadcast footage showing people standing on both sides of the main road in Petra and along the desert highway trying to stay clear of the floods.

Ghneimat urged residents of the stricken areas and in low-lying regions to evacuate their homes, saying that heavy rains were expected to continue to lash Jordan Friday night and Saturday. 

Jordan's ministry of education announced that schools across the country would be closed on Sunday.

Last week, Jordan's education and tourism ministers resigned after the deaths of 21 people, mostly schoolchildren on an outing, who were swept away in flash floods near the Dead Sea in late October, 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.