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Flash Floods in Israel's Desert Kill 10 Teenage Hikers

04-26-2018

JERUSALEM, Israel – Rescuers located the missing hiker, bringing the death toll to 10 teens from a post-high school, pre-military program – nine girls and a boy – who were swept away and drowned Thursday in floodwaters near the Dead Sea. Thirteen of the hikers were rescued uninjured, while two were lightly injured.

The students were trekking through Nahal Tzafit, one of the dry riverbeds that run through the desert. Heavy downpours can cause flash floods to roar down the riverbed.

Police units and an elite Israel Air Force rescue unit joined local search teams in a nonstop effort to locate the hikers.  

Thirteen were rescued without serious injury and nine transported in critical condition to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva died.

Security forces closed the main route to Eilat, Israel's southernmost resort city, near where the hikers were lost. Authorities also canceled flights to the city's airport because of flooded runways.

While residents hunkered down to wait out the storm, rescue teams tried to locate the last missing student as night fell.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was kept abreast by phone, said, "We are all praying for better news."

President Reuven Rivlin also said the nation is praying.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with our brothers, our children, our loved ones, who are in trouble. We are closely following the updates from the south and send a warm embrace to the worried families. We will strengthen all the security and rescue forces, who are in the process of search and rescue and medical treatment. I ask you all, please follow the instructions of the police and rescue forces and be attentive to them," his statement read.

Two youngsters died in floodwaters Wednesday and a Bedouin shepherdess was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

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