The death toll from flash floods in Jordan rose to 12 on Saturday, and the kingdom's main tourist attraction, the ancient city of Petra, was closed for cleanup after what local officials said was the biggest deluge in the area in decades. Friday's floods struck several areas of Jordan, per the AP. Rescuers continued the search for missing people around the Wala reservoir in central Jordan. In the southern town of Maan, authorities opened a shelter for dozens of people whose homes were surrounded by water. In all, a dozen people were killed, including two children and a diver who'd been involved in rescue efforts, per state media and a government rep. Two of the bodies were found Saturday. Israel's public radio said contact had been lost with three Israeli tourists in southern Jordan. Makan Radio said the tourists had last been heard from in the Wadi Rum area, a big tourist attraction.
In Petra, heavy rains began at around 1pm Friday and lasted for about 40 minutes, said a tourist from Spain. At about 3pm, a torrent of water came gushing through the site's steep and narrow access canyon, flooding the area within minutes, he said. The tourist noted he was observing from a hilltop temple in the area but saw other visitors scrambling to higher ground. He said some visitors were later evacuated by trucks, while others made their way out on foot. Suleiman Farajat, the chief administrator in Petra, said the site would remain closed Saturday, but would likely reopen Sunday. He said he's never seen flooding of such intensity in the area. "It's really ... surprising how huge the flood was," he said. The torrents came two weeks after 21 people, most of them children, were killed in flash floods near the Dead Sea. (A school bus was swept away in that earlier flood.)