Saturday 23rd of March 2019 |
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Outgoing education, tourism ministers blamed for Dead Sea tragedy –House


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — The parliamentary investigation committee’s report on the Dead Sea incident heldthe outgoing education and tourism ministers politically and morally responsible for the death of 21 and the injury of 35 others in the recent flashfloods, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reportedon Monday.
During the Lower House’s Monday session, chaired by Speaker of the House Atef Tarawnehand attended by Prime Minister Omar Razzaz and Cabinet members, MPs approved the recommendations of the investigation panel, thus closing the file of the case, as it is currently being seen by the judiciary.
A Royal Decree was issued on Sunday accepting the resignation of Education Minister Azmi Mahafzah and Tourism Minister Lina Annab, after the prime minister’s announcement that his government holds the “moral, administrative and practical” responsibility for the incident. 
The report recommended that the government take legal and disciplinary actionsagainst the head of the Educational andTechnical Affairs Departmentat the University District Education Directorate, for breachingregulations and guidelines governing school trips, as well as against those who failed to take measures ofcloseoff the area or provide police presence. 
The panel also recommended adopting a new mechanism for delivering dead bodies, whereby scientific methodsare considered to ensure respect for the deceased, and respect to their  families’ feelings.
The report also called for establishing a warning system in the area of the Dead Sea, operating Civil Defence Department aircraft in the area for immediate response to any emergency and hiring divers and lifeguards on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea.
The Education Ministry breachedthe regulations governing school trips,the report stated, and failed to pay attention to the weather forecast circulated to all ministries. 
It was also found, according to the report,that the schoolviolatedschool trip regulations, especially the age rule, and by changing the destination of the trip and its itinerary,failing to submit an accurate name list of the students participating in the trip and contracting a tourism company without notifying the ministry or obtaining its official approval.
The panel also found that the tourism company that organised the trip breached the regulations of the Tourism Ministry, as some of their destinations wereunsafe and off the tourismdestinations map. In addition, they were in breach of the guidelines of adventure tourism regarding the number of participants and coordination with relevant authorities. 
The company was also blamed in the report for not taking into consideration the weather conditions, failing to provide safety gear and for aid kits and ignoring warning signs.
It added that one of the two companies organising the trip is unlicensed to organise tourist activities. 
The panelremarked thatWadi Zarqa-Maeen Dam was empty a day before the incident, and accordingly, it did not cause the flashfloods. 
The report also underlined administrative governors’ underperformance in excercising their authorities. 
In accordance with Article 56, the Lower Houseformed a parliamentary investigation committee to probe the Dead Sea incident, which was chaired by MP Abdulmunem Oudat and six other members.

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