At least 17 dead, dozens missing in Dead Sea floods

Relatives of the victim sitting outside the hospital

A group of middle school students and teachers were visiting hot springs near the Dead Sea when flash flooding swept through the region on Thursday afternoon, local time.

A rescue operation was launched with police helicopters and hundreds of soldiers saving 34 people, some of whom are in a serious condition.

Doctor Mahmoud Zureigat, general manager of al-Basheer public hospital in Amman where the victims were transported, said the dead arrived with severe injuries to their bodies.

The private-school students and their adult chaperones were touring near the Dead Sea when the floods carried them away.

Also among the dead were passers-by who had been picnicking in the area, he said, adding that a nearby bridge had collapsed.

Families of victims had been searching the rugged area after search teams suspended operations overnight for a few hours, a witness said. Several people are still feared missing, he said.

King Abdullah II cancelled his scheduled trip to Bahrain following news of the flooding, and in a later tweet thanked surrounding Arab nations, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia for its condolences.

At least 17 dead, dozens missing in Dead Sea floods
At least 14 children and teachers die in Jordan flood

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Air Force (AIF) helicopters were assisting the search and rescue operation following a request from the Jordanian government.

Rescue workers were continuing to search for survivors, he said.

He posted a copy of the school's field trip permit, which had named a different destination - not the Dead Sea.

Heavy rains also caused roads to flood in the Jordanian capital, Amman, while big hail stones fell in Ajloun, in the north of the country.

The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is surrounded by steep valleys and gullies that frequently see flash floods and landslides in autumn and winter.

There have been deadly incidents involving flash floods in Jordan in the past and in 1963, 23 French tourists were swept away by flash floods when they were trapped in the ancient Petra city.

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