AMMAN – Authorities are investigating an unexplained phenomenon that was reported in the area of Umm Jouzeh, near Rmemin, some 10 kilometres to the north of Salt, on Tuesday.
According to Balqa Governor Abdul Jalil Sleimat, the phenomenon was discovered by coincidence when a sheep entered an area of land while grazing. According to the shepherd attending the herd, Sleimat said, the sheep caught fire, “was completely burned and disappeared”.
According to Sleimat, the ground in the area was still unusually hot until late Tuesday, and once any material was thrown into the area, it burned quickly and smoke and flames came out.
A committee comprising members of the governorate, the Natural Resources Authority (NRA), the Royal Geographic Centre, the Royal Scientific Society (RSS) and the Civil Defence Department (CDD) was formed to extract samples from the land for examination.
Maher Hijazin, director of the NRA, told Ammonnews.com that the explanation of the phenomenon is “simple”, saying that since the area lies at the end of a sewage pipeline, organic materials might have collected under the surface and interacted in a way that heated up an area of 50-60 square metres.
Jordan Geologists Association President Bahjat Odwan yesterday dismissed the presence of any earthquake or volcanic activity in the area.
In cooperation with the University of Jordan, the association will form a committee of specialists to examine the phenomenon and find its causes, he said.
Odwan agreed it was possible that the phenomenon could be explained by the presence of some underground remnants of organic materials in the area.
A police patrol was placed at the site and the place was completely sealed off with phosphoric tape, Sleimat said. The area’s people were evacuated to ensure their safety, he said, noting that the area, around two dunums, is plain with red soil.
Butrus Hasso, a nearby resident, told The Jordan Times: “It is just a strange thing, so strange.”
“Two fire trucks came earlier in the day, trying to put out the flames and cool the area, but the area continued to be very hot,” he added.
“In the daytime, flames could be seen coming out of the area,” Hasso said.
Hasso said the area was packed with CDD personnel until late in the evening.
Commenting on the phenomenon, Greater Salt Municipality Council member and representative of the Rmemin area Ahmad Kharabsheh said the plot’s temperature rose dramatically, burning all grass and trees around it.
In the morning, he told The Jordan Times over phone, an RSS team measured the temperature of the ground at the site and found it to be “400-450 degrees” Celsius.
The area was still ablaze and emitting smoke as of late yesterday evening, Kharabsheh added, noting that the site has been designated a restricted area.
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