Jordan braces for flood chaos after heaviest rains of the winter

Ministries and educational institutions shut early after government declares level 4 weather alert

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Jordanian authorities battled heavy flooding, building collapses and blocked roads on Thursday, caused by what the kingdom's meteorological department said were the heaviest rains of this winter season.

The government declared a "level 4" weather alert and closed ministries early on Thursday afternoon. Several universities including the University of Jordan and dozens of schools across the country remained shut or sent students home early ahead of expected floods and evening snowfall.

Civil defence rescued a woman and her three children trapped in a flooded home in the Ain al Basha neighbourhood north of Amman, while roof collapses were reported in homes in Amman, Ruseifah and Irbid, although with no injuries. The Royal Badia Forces moved 46 refugees living in tents in the desert to safer areas.

Major roads between Amman and the Dead Sea and from Madaba to the Dead Sea were closed because of flooding fears.

Jordan’s ministry of water and irrigation told citizens to leave the area near Waleh Dam in central Jordan, 60 kilometres south of Amman, saying the 8.2 million cubic metre reservoir was filled beyond capacity and expected overflow.

Heavier than usual rains have caused a serious threat from torrential, fast-moving floods this winter, including a flash flood that killed 21 people, mainly school students, near the Dead Sea in November.

The heavy rain has also caused heavy flooding in the neighbouring West Bank in and Jerusalem. Isreali media reported that a section of Israel's separation barrier collapsed near the Shuafat refugee camp on Wednesday after more than 20mm of rain fell in the area overnight.