April 26 (UPI) — Israeli police launched an investigation Thursday into the deaths of nine students caught in a flash flood on a hiking trip in southern Israel.
Police will look into why staff at a pre-army school in Tel Aviv organized the trip when authorities warned of an imminent flash food, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
Officials will investigate the possibility of death by negligence, a charge that carries the possibility of a three-year prison sentence, the newspaper reported.
The nine students killed in the flash flood — and the other left missing — were each 18 years old, the BBC reported.
The students were part of a larger hiking group of 25 pupils from the Tel Aviv school caught in the flash flood.
Fifteen students from the group have been rescued, Haaretz reported. Two of them had hypothermia and were taken to Soroka Medical Center for treatment.
“Israel grieves the promising young lives that were cut off by this tragedy in the Arava,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the Haaretz report. “We embrace the families with grief and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded.”