Nine Israeli students caught in a flash flood while hiking in southern Israel were evacuated in critical condition Thursday, as search and rescue teams work to locate other teens caught lost in the flood.
Twenty-five students from a pre-army preparatory school were hit by the flood Thursday while they were hiking in Nahal Tzafit in the Judean Desert west of the Dead Sea. Army prep schools offer Israeli teens graduating from high school the opportunity to spend a year preparing for their mandatory military service.
Search and rescue teams, aided by helicopter units, have converged on the area, recovering 24 of the students.
One student remains missing, and there has been no visual contact with the missing student since the flash flood hit. The 669 Search and Rescue unit of the Israeli Air Force was deployed to assist the efforts to locate the missing students.
Diving teams have been called deployed to aid in the search.
According to a report by an MDA team on the scene, three students have been declared dead. It was later reported that nine students were evacuated by helicopter to Beer Sheva’s Soroka Medical Center in critical condition. Two more students were treated for light injuries, while 13 of those rescued suffered no injuries.
Of the nine students reportedly in critical condition, eight are female, one is male.
Police later confirmed that several students evacuated in critical condition had died, but did not specify the total number of fatalities.
Sections of Route 90 have been shut down as a result of the flood.
Storms hit southern Israel on Thursday, causing flooding in parts of the Negev and the southern port city of Eilat, forcing the temporary closure of a flooded runway at Eilat airport.