Flash floods kills at least 18, mostly schoolchildren, in Jordan

Jordanian authorities say at least 18 people -mostly children- have killed killed by flash floods caused by heavy rainfall in the hot springs near the Dead Sea.

While 34 were reported injured, the country's Civil Defence Department (CDD) said it was no longer sure on the number of those missing. It also indicated that 44 students and teachers from a private
school in Amman were swept away with the water, in addition to an unidentified number of families at the site.

About 2000 personnel drawn from military and civil state agencies participated in a large scale rescue operation alongside 100 rescue machineries, four helicopters and several boats, which were roaming the lake of the Dead Sea in search for survivors or victims, according to the CDD.

In a telephone interview with local paper, The Jordan Times, a CDD press department officer said, "This is a major rescue operation involving personnel from different state agencies as well as several rescue helicopters and boats, marine divers and swimmers, who are on site now to rescue trapped people and search for missing ones."

A doctor at the Southern Shouneh Public Hospital emergency room, told the paper that the "bodies kept on coming".

"Ambulances were coming and leaving, dropping dead people and dropping injured people from different ages. By 7:00pm we had 10 dead bodies and 11 mildly injured people," the doctor said.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz and senior officials from the government and army, oversaw the rescue operation on Thursday. Razzaz instructed state agencies to provide all needed assistance to ensure the safety of the students and those trapped.

He also ordered an immediate probe into the accident to determine responsibility, amid reports that the school violated the regulations of the Education Ministry.

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