Tomorrow marks 1st anniversary of Dead Sea tragedy


Published: 2019-10-24 16:45

Last Updated: 2024-02-23 16:53

Tomorrow marks 1st anniversary of Dead Sea tragedy
Tomorrow marks 1st anniversary of Dead Sea tragedy

It's been one year since the Dead Sea tragedy, that took the lives of 21 people and left several others with injuries, took place.

Around 3 pm on Thursday, October 25, 2018, a well-expected thunderstorm poured down heavy rain over the mountains of Madaba. A flashflood roared 5 km into the Jordan valley in the Dead Sea, sweeping everything in its path, causing mudslides, and road blockages.

Middle-school students and members of staff, who were on a school field trip, were enjoying the Zara Maeen hot springs when water surged into their area and they were engulfed by horrific flashfloods. The raging waters swept away some of them, down the valley at the Dead Sea.

A huge rescue operation was launched with the Civil Defense Directorate (CDD) rescue teams working non-stop with full force in search of survivors within the high-meters of muddy water.

There were people who ended up in the seawater, there were people who managed to reach rocks and save themselves and others who were saved by the CDD members with no injuries.

Helicopters were dispatched to light and comb the area, CDD Marine divers searched the sea in hopes of finding more survivors. Heavy equipment was mobilized to clear the way by the ministries of Municipalities and Public Works, with the aid of the Arab Potash Company.

All civilians and military personnel were evacuated from the site, as the Public Sector Development Ministry (PSD) and the CDD searched for the missing persons.

His Majesty King Abdullah II had canceled plans for an official visit in order to personally follow up with the rescue operations. While Prime Minister, Omar Razzaz, along with a number of ministers and officials, were at the scene of the tragedy.

It was supposed to be a field trip, but it ended up with a tragedy.

The Jordanian government has held a meeting today, during which it announced the measures it has taken after the tragedy.

In a statement, the government confirmed that the measures and steps taken come to ensure that such incidents never happen again.

These measures are as follows:

First (The Ministry of Education): New instructions for school trips were published in the Official Gazette (No. 5562) on February 24, 2019, which prevented trips to flood streams, water pools, valleys, slopes, and dams, such as Wadi Mujib Dam, Wadi Shueib, King Talal Dam, Zarqa-Ma’een Dam, the Dead Sea, Al-Aghwar, In addition, any adventure and exploration trips were also forbidden.

Instructions indicated that school trips shall be set between 21/3 to 15/5 during the second semester.

Second (The Ministry of Tourism): The rules and conditions of adventure tourism for the year 2019 were approved in accordance with the provisions of the law of tourism and travel agencies and offices and that were also published in the Official Gazette (No. 5581) on June 16, 2019, where licences for companies offering adventure trips to schools were prohibited. For trips not organized by schools, qualified escorts must be at the site based on the type of adventure.

Third (The Civil Defense Directorate): Many of the areas exposed to the risk of flashfloods, especially areas that people and tourists visit the most were provided with alarm devices, especially the Dead Sea area and the City of Aqaba.

In addition, a water and mountain rescue center in the Dead Sea has been established, close to sites visited by tourists and visitors. Moreover, a large number of divers were assigned to be in these areas, provided with equipment and mechanisms for rescue.

Fourth (The Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD): Stations for Meteorology have been modernized and equipped with modern meteorological devices to ensure the accuracy of the information at a high rate. The Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD) has made sure to send the weather forecast to all government institutions, citizens, educational, industrial, commercial, tourism and service sectors, and through modern technological means.

Fifth (Ministry of Public works and Housing): The government has re-established and implemented maintenance works for the bridges and the main road in the Dead Sea area (Suwaymah/ Ghour Haditha).The completion of the maintenance works' rate ranged between 90% and 95%, and are expected to be fully completed within five months. The government confirmed that the bridges in the area have nothing to do with the incident.

Sixth: Before winter, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), municipalities and electricity companies must carry out periodic operations to ensure the validity of the infrastructure of tunnels, sewage systems and power lines to avoid electrical breakdowns.

Dams, water sources, valleys and lowlands must be checked and people living in tents must be deported to safe areas.

Seventh (Crisis Management): A mechanism of coordination between institutions related to weather conditions has been developed in accordance with the strategy of the National Center for Security and Crisis Management, and the role of the Supreme Council of the Civil Defense Directorate (CDD) has been activated.

Ministries and official institutions were also obliged to limit their available mechanisms and equipment, which can be utilized during crisis and emergency management.

Eighth (Ministry of Water and Irrigation): A documented record must be made to measure the floods in the main valleys, and technical studies must be conducted to identify the nature of these areas. In addition, more installations and water fenders must be built on the valley's streams.

Ninth (The Ministry of Health): The role of the Crises and Disasters Unit at the Ministry of Health must be activated and cadres of the Ministry must be trained on the accuracy of diagnosing and characterizing injuries in disasters. In addition, a joint evacuation mechanism must be put and hospitals near such places must be reformed.