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Amman floods: Drowning deaths blamed on infrastructure

The floods trapped people in homes and cars and many had to be rescued [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 6 November, 2015

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A fatal rainstorm killed four in floods in Amman on Thursday, leaving hundreds trapped as well as damaging homes and businesses, causing an outcry among residents over 'weak' government preparations.
Four people, including two children, died on Thursday as just 45 minutes of heavy rainfall sparked flash floods and wrought havoc in the Jordanian capital, Amman, according to the Civil Defence Department (CDD).

In Amman's Arjan area, the 12-year-old and six-year-old sons of an Egyptian national drowned in their basement apartment, the CDD said.

In a statement to Jordan's English-language newspaper The Jordan Times, the CDD said floodwater inundated the Egyptian family's flat after the fortifying wall of three adjacent buildings collapsed.

Two others died in the capital, including one who was electrocuted after rainwater flooded the building where he was staying.

The heavy rain flooded several streets and buildings in the capital and closed a number of tunnels.

In downtown Amman, the floods damaged more than 500 shops and warehouses, with the losses estimated at around $6.5 million.

Floodwater also disrupted schools and universities.

There were reports of people trapped in their homes and others in vehicles as a result of high water levels, especially in tunnels.

Many had to be evacuated or rescued.

There were also power blackouts in parts of the kingdom, though air traffic from Amman's Queen Alia International Airport was not affected.

Amman residents took to social media to criticise the authorities' lack of preparedness and the capital's weak infrastructure for the damages incurred due to the downpour.

One trending hashtag in Arabic was #Amman_Drowning.

Some denizens called for a sit-in protest at the Amman municipality building to demand the resignation of Mayor Akel Biltaji, accusing him of failing to make adequate preparations for the rainy season.

Amman municipality official Bassem Tarawneh defended the handling of the floods, and said the infrastructure in the city could not have coped with the "uncharacteristic" rainfall.

Severe weather conditions have blanketed many parts of the Middle East over the past 10 days, with floods reported in Beirut, Alexandria, Baghdad and Kuwait.

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