Sudden torrential rain caused a flash flood near the Dead Sea in Jordan leaving a confirmed 20 dead and 35 injured. Israel’s military have joined the recovery effort to rescue middle school students and teachers caught up in the tragedy who were out on a field trip visiting the hot springs.
A Jordanian Education Ministry official said the students were from a private school, but specific details of the victims have not been released.
In light of deteriorating weather conditions the Jordanian Government requested assistance from the Israel Air Force (IAF) as it emerged the currents were carrying students as far out as 5 km towards the Dead Sea.
In response the IAF sent its elite search-and-rescue unit comprising of helicopters equipped with infrared imaging and large searchlights to illuminate the area. Israeli divers were also dispatched and have worked throughout the night to save victims clinging to rocks.
In a statement released last night the IAF said: “The Israeli Air Force deployed helicopters full of search & rescue soldiers to Jordan. They assisted in the rescue of a bus of Jordanian children that was swept away in floods on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea. This assistance was requested by the Jordanian Government”.
As survivors returned to dry land Israeli medical specialists were on the ground to administer treatment alongside their Jordanian counterparts.
Jordanian Police Chief General Farid al-Sharaa confirmed that “thirteen people were saved without any injury to them” by the joint Jordanian-Israeli rescue operation.
The low-lying Dead Sea area, part of the Jordan Valley, is prone to flash flooding when rain water rushes down from adjacent hills. Thursday’s incident is the second tragedy resulting from flash flooding near the Dead Sea this year. In April 10 Israeli students were killed in Nahal Tzafitwhen when they were surprised by a similar flash flood during a hiking trip.