With 21 dead and dozens missing in floods on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, both Israel and Jordan are braced for their first major rainstorm of the winter.
At least 21 people, most of them children, were killed in a fierce flood on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea Thursday.
Dozens more were missing, students and civilians whose bus was swept away by flash flooding as they were traveling there. Extensive rescue efforts were underway in the area.
“Heavy rains caused a flash flood close to the Dead Sea that washed away a school bus carrying 37 students and seven minders,” the official said.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Air Force (AIF) helicopters were assisting the search and rescue operation following a request from the Jordanian government.
“The IDF has begun assisting in the rescue of the Jordanian children’s bus that was swept away adjacent to the Dead Sea on the Jordanian side as a result of flooding in the southern area earlier today,” the IDF stated.
Earlier Thursday, a 4-year-old boy was carried away by the water in southern Israel and was declared dead at a Beersheba hospital after paramedics found him near the Bedouin town of Kuseife, unable to resuscitate him.
Flash flooding was reported in the south due to heavy rainfall with police closing off Highway 90 by the Dead Sea, which flooded it.
Israel and Jordan braced for the first major storm of the winter on Thursday, with strong winds, heavy rains, and flooding expected to batter the country.
Flash flood warnings were issued in southern Israel as rainfall in the region began, with 60 to 200 millimeters (2.3-7.8 inches) of precipitation and possibly hail expected, along with winds reaching anywhere up to 100 kilometers an hour (62 miles per hour).
Israel’s national electric company advised residents to remove items from their balconies and rooftops that might be blown away in the winds or damaged by the storm.
Israel’s meteorological service said temperatures were expected to drop significantly, reaching lows of around 14 degrees Celcius in Jerusalem and areas of the nothern Golan Heights regions.
In April, a sudden storm that caused flash flooding in southern Israel’s Negev desert led to the drowning of ten 18-year-old pre-military students on a hiking trip.
Police were investigating whether the trip organizers lied to participants about the safety of the trail they planned to take amid unseasonably heavy rains as well as about their coordination with relevant authorities, who had issued flash flood warnings for the areas.
View original i24NEWS publication at: