18 killed after flash flood sweeps away students, teachers near Dead Sea

The flooding happened near the Dead Sea in Jordan

At least 14 school children and teachers have died in a flash flood near Jordan's Dead Sea, which happened while they were on an outing.

Mustafa al-Basaiah, the director general of the kingdom's Civil Defense, said that 13 of the dead and 21 of about three dozen injured were middle school students.

On Twitter, Jordanian user Renad Khafner said she knew of a mother who had sent her two daughters on the school trip that was hit in the flooding.

"It swept away the students for 4 to 5 kilometres, " some as far as the Dead Sea, he said.

A rescue operation was launched with police helicopters and hundreds of soldiers saving 34 people, some of whom are in a serious condition. The Minister of Public Sector Development along with CDD are at the scene to follow up with the rescue efforts and the search of missing persons.

The region was bracing on Thursday for the first winter storms after the summer, with heavy rainfall and high winds expected.

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth and popular with visitors.

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Rescuers from the Jordanian civil defence and the army were working late into the night to locate survivors in Zarqa Maeen, an area known for its water springs and gorges opening on to the Dead Sea.

"The number of those killed in the flash flood is expected to increase because many were reported to have been swept away by the raging water", the official said.

The official, who was not named, expressed surprise that a school trip had been organised despite weather warnings.

Israel's military said it dispatched a search and rescue team at the request of Jordan's government.

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz sent his condolences to the families of the victims, promising an investigation into the incident, and said that anyone responsible would be held accountable.

As the death toll continued to rise Thursday evening, Jordan's King Abdullah II announced that he canceled a visit to Bahrain, which had been scheduled for Friday.

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