Israeli helicopter
© Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
An Israeli military helicopter takes part in the search operation near Arava.


Police say 15 rescued and one still missing from group hiking south of Dead Sea


Nine Israeli teenagers who were hiking south of the Dead Sea have been killed by flash floods, Israel's rescue service said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 25 students in a pre-army course were "caught off guard" near Arava in southern Israel and some were "washed away" by heavy rains. He said 15 hikers were rescued and one was still missing. Eight of those killed were men and one was a woman; they were all 18.


Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, said on Twitter: "The state of Israel is mourning the loss of young promising lives in the heavy disaster." He said Israel embraced the grieving families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

The downpour caused parts of Israel's security barrier with the West Bank to collapse, Rosenfeld said.

Police and army helicopters were deployed to search for the missing member of the group, but operations were suspended at nightfall due to harsh conditions.

The Dead Sea, the world's lowest point at about 1,400ft below sea level, is surrounded by desert and generally arid cliffs. Rain can rush down the steep descents, causing sudden and violent torrents in otherwise dry spots. Heavy rainfall has fallen sporadically over the past two days.