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Gov’t opens probe into Dead Sea tragedy; school under fire

By Hana Namrouqa - Oct 26,2018 - Last updated at Oct 26,2018

AMMAN — The government will open an investigation and hold accountable those responsible for a tragic incident that saw at least 18 people killed in flashfloods in the Dead Sea area, Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat said on Thursday.

“It is clear that there is a violation; the school which organised the trip did not abide by public safety regulations which stipulate that students must not swim and must be kept away from waterways,” Ghunaimat told The Jordan Times over the phone.

In addition, the school, Amman-based Victoria College, received an approval for a trip to Al Azraq [an eco-tourism destination in Jordan’s eastern desert] not to the Dead Sea, Ghunaimat highlighted.

“There are several violations involved, including that the school did not conform to the clearance it received [from the Education Ministry],” Ghunaimat highlighted.

She noted that Prime Minister Omar Razzaz instructed the government to immediately open an investigation into the tragedy.

“Everyone who proves to have committed a violation and did not do their part will be held accountable,” the minister said.

Education Ministry’s officials, including the spokesperson, were not available for comment on the incident despite several attempts made by The Jordan Times to reach them.

An educational expert, who preferred to remain unnamed, criticised the Education Ministry on Thursday for allowing school trips in October; a month during which unstable weather conditions and depressions are expected.

“It is very odd, indeed, for a school to organise a trip during October. In addition, authorities have issued weather-related warnings, including warnings of possible flood formation in low-lying areas. But despite all of this, the school carried on with the trip,” the expert told The Jordan Times.

Official correspondence between the ministry and the private school that organised the trip shows that the ministry approved the trip’s destination as Al Azraq, and clearly warned against allowing students to swim or be in close contact with waterways.

Razzaz shared related documents on Twitter later in the evening. 

An angry mob of students’ families and relatives surrounded the premises of the school, located in Amman’s Tlaa Al Ali, on Thursday evening, demanding that the school be held accountable for the tragedy.

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