TEL AVIV – Nine teenagers have been confirmed dead after their bus was swept away in a flash flood in the south of Israel on Thursday.
The 17- and 18-year-olds of the Bnei Zion Academy, a pre-military school in Tel Aviv, were on a “bonding trip” ahead of the start of the program, slated to begin in September.
All were taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
One student is still missing. Army helicopters, the diving unit of the fire services and police have been dispatched to locate the missing teen.
Magen David Adom CEO Eli Bin told an Israeli radio station that the rescue teams are “racing against the clock to save lives.”
“We were unable to escape the current and were swept away by the river,” a rescued youth told Channel 10 news.
Police have warned people to stay away from the area.
“I support the security and rescue forces that are currently working to save lives and locate those missing in the severe disaster that occurred today in Nahal Tzafit,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before the nine deaths were confirmed. “We are all praying for better news.”
President Reuven Rivlin said: “Our prayers and thoughts are with our brothers, our children and our loved ones who are in trouble. We are closely following the updates from the south and send a warm embrace to the worried families. We will strengthen all the security and rescue forces, who are in the process of search and rescue and medical treatment. I ask you all, please follow the instructions of the police and rescue forces and be attentive to them.”