HAPPENING NOW: Rescue operations underway in Nahal Tzafit near the Dead Sea in the Arava area, after an Israeli school bus swept away by a flash flood.
UPDATE: Rescue forces located the body of the girl who was missing following the flash flood in Nahal Tzafit. Magen David Adom paramedics pronounced her dead, bringing the death toll in the disaster to 10.
The children, from a pre-military academy school, were on a trip to Nahal Tzafit stream in the Arava, near the Dead Sea, when they became trapped by the floods. The wounded children were evacuated to Soroka University Medical Center in Beer Sheva.
Nine youths —eight girls and one boy— were killed and one girl remains missing.
Shortly after 5pm, two of the three remaining missing children was found. The original number of seven said to be in critical condition was raised to nine. Fifteen were pulled from the floods to safety by 5pm.
Medics also evacuated a girl and boy, both 18, to hospital in light to moderate condition after suffering from hypothermia. They had also received minor blows to the body in the floods.
Two guides and a medic who accompanied the children on the trip were found unharmed.
As the storm picked up again and the sun went down, conditions were too difficult and hazardous to continue trying to locate the missing girl and search efforts were halted.
Police have set up a hotline for families to obtain information on a group of students missing in the south of Israel after they got caught in a flash flood. Concerned family members should call 0505073789 for information.
“The trip was not reported to us, our situation room was not told in advance and we did not give any permission for such a trip,” the Education Ministry said in a statement.
Apache helicopters circled the skies while scouring the desert cliffs for any signs of life.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is closely monitoring the search and rescue efforts being carried out by the security forces in the flood disaster area in the south. The PM spoke by telephone with GOC Operations Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon and was updated on operations in the field.
“I commend the security and rescue forces that are now working to save lives and locate the missing in the terrible disaster that took place today in Nahal Tzafit. We are all praying for better news,” Netanyahu said.
A group representing the children’s parents called for an investigation of the tragedy.
“We will ask to investigate, to find out how the disaster happened, which seems to be a terrible oversight,” the group said.
The Head of the pre-army preparatory school was arrested by Police and is currently being questioned about possible negligence in the event.