Nine students killed by flash floods during hike through riverbed near Dead Sea

April 27, 2018 by JNS
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At least nine students were killed during a field trip on Thursday during flash floods that pummeled Israel.

ZAKA emergency volunteers transport bodies on April 26, 2018 of 9 students killed during flash floods while hiking in the Nahal Tzafit river bed. Photo courtesy of ZAKA.

A group of 25 students, ages 17 and 18, who were accepted to the Bnei Tzion pre-military academy in Tel Aviv for the coming year, were hiking in the Judean Desert along the Nahal Tzafit riverbed trail that empties into the Dead Sea.

Fifteen other students missing for several hours were found during a massive search-and-rescue operation that included Israeli Police, the Air Force’s 669 rescue team and a regional search-and-rescue unit. Two were lightly wounded; one remains missing.

Israel’s Ministry of Education claims that it was not made aware of the trip, as per protocol.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement: “A heavy tragedy has struck the State of Israel. Our hearts are with the families of the teenagers who found their deaths in flash floods in the South,” while adding that “the Ministry of Education will continue, over the coming hours and days, to closely escort the educational staff in the schools the students attended.”

 

Video from Akiva Werber

Bennett also thanked the search and rescue teams “for their determined work to rescue the boys and girls.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter: “The State of Israel grieves the promising young lives that were cut short by this tragedy in the Arava [Desert Region]. We embrace the families in grief and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded.”

In Israel, rivers fill up with water during the winter rain season, which typically ends around the Passover holiday. The river had been dry for several weeks before unseasonable torrential downpours struck the country on Wednesday and Thursday. During heavy rains, the water in the rivers can rise quickly leading to flash floods. Hikers are warned to steer clear of river beds during inclement weather, when they can be notoriously dangerous. When dry, riverbeds are popular hiking destinations.

Two Bedouin teenagers were killed in separate incidents during floods on Wednesday.

JNS

MDA Paramedic Nir Yifat: “I was with a patient in a Mobile Intensive Care Unit on the way from Eilat to Soroka, I received a call from the MDA Emergency Dispatch Center about the incident when I was about 3 km away. I continued quickly and stopped at the scene of the incident, I went with the ambulance to a high place in the area, and the helicopters of Unit 669 began to evacuate the seriously injured after they had been extracted from the river. The sight was very difficult. We performed a preliminary triage on the casualties who came to us when they were unconscious, pulseless and not breathing, and suffered bruises and signs of drowning. With the help of the IDF medical force, we performed medical tests and after a short time we had to pronounce the death of one young man and eight young women.”

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