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Middle East

Rains bring flood havoc, drought relief to desert Jordan

  • Traffic policemen help push a stranded car along a flooded street in Amman January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

AMMAN: Torrential rains swept through desert Jordan for a second straight day on Tuesday sparking widespread flooding and traffic chaos but bringing welcome water to reservoirs in one of the world's 10 driest countries.

The main road between Amman and the northern city of Zarqa was closed as sections were swamped by up to a metre (three feet) of water.

"Motorists should be advised that more flooding is expected as more rain and snow are coming to Jordan," police spokesman Mohammad Khatib told AFP.

In the capital, flash floods overwhelmed a drainage system not designed to handle the volume of water and most traffic underpasses and tunnels were closed.

The city council and water utility traded blame for the resulting traffic gridlock, while the government came in for press criticism.

"Instead of bragging how Amman is one of the most beautiful cities in the Arab world, the government should fix the capital's streets and drainage system first," wrote columnist Ibrahim Khreisat on the website of the independent Al-Arab Al-Yawm daily.

But in a kingdom, which is 92 percent desert and which suffers a chronic shortage of water, the rains added 62 million cubic metres (198.4 million cubic feet) to reservoirs in just 48 hours, the Jordan Valley Authority said.

And amid the disruption at least some Jordanians were willing to see the humorous side. "Thank God, finally I have a house by the sea," one Amman resident wrote on Facebook.

 
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