At least 18 people, mainly schoolchildren and teachers, were killed on Thursday in a flash flood near Jordan's Dead Sea that happened while they were on an outing, rescuers and hospital workers said.
Thirty-four people were rescued in an major operation involving police helicopters and hundreds of army troops, police chief Brigadier General Farid al Sharaa told state television. Some of those rescued were in a serious condition.
Many of those killed were children under 14. A number of families picnicking in the popular destination were also among the dead and injured, rescuers said, without giving a breakdown of numbers.
Hundreds of families and relatives converged on Shounah hospital a few kilometers from the resort area. Relatives sobbed and searched for details about the missing children, a witness said. Several more students were injured in the incident near the Dead Sea, said an official from the civil defense, Jordan’s fire service, who asked not to be named.
“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. Rescue workers were continuing to search for survivors, he said. “The students were on a school trip and it appears that a mudslide along the road swept their bus away,” the official said.
Israel’s military said it was helping with the operation, sending helicopters and search and rescue soldiers. “Currently assisting Jordan in rescuing a bus full of children swept away in a flood on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea,” it wrote on Twitter.
Heavy rains hit Jordan on Thursday afternoon, causing floods in several areas. The Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth, is surrounded by steep valley slopes that frequently witness flash floods and landslides.
The Jordanian Ministry of Health earlier announced that the floods resulted in 10 deaths and 44 missing, mostly school children. Jordan dispatched helicopters to search for 44 students and teachers who were swept away by floods from heavy rain in the Dead Sea area.
The Jordanian Civil Defense said that floods swept away a school trip, which resulted in the deaths of children and the loss of dozens. The Civil Defense confirmed the rescue of 10 students stormed by rainwater in the Zara area near the Dead Sea.
The Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razaz is following on the situation and discussed in a telephone call the rescue operation with the Director General of the Jordanian Civil Defense.
King Abdullah cancels trip
King Abdullah cancelled a trip to Bahrain to follow the rescue operations, state media said.
The premier also telephoned the Minister of Interior and Municipalities and minister of Public Works and Housing and discussed means on how to deal with the incident with maximum attention and speed, and to provide the necessary mechanisms and manpower for the safety of students, teachers and citizens in the region.
Razaz directed all civilian and military bodies to move immediately to the site and continue rescue efforts. The major rescue operation have rescued 11 people some of whom are in a serious condition, the sources told Reuters.