In Brief

Jordan: at least 20 killed as flash flood sweeps away school bus

Students and teachers were visiting Dead Sea resort when the waters surged

At least 20 people, most of them children under the age of 14, were killed when a flash flood swept away a school bus in Jordan yesterday. 

A total of 37 students and seven teachers were on board the vehicle for a trip to the Zara Maeen hot springs by the Dead Sea, according to Middle East Eye.  Jordanian authorities said 21 of the bus passengers had been rescued as of Thursday night, Al Jazeera reports.

Dozens more people were injured in the flood, and many others are missing, with officials warning that the death toll is expected to rise. The victims also include members of families picnicking at the popular tourist spot, says the BBC

Jordan has launched a massive search and rescue operation, which includes helicopters loaned by the Israel Defence Forces, but their efforts have been hampered by continuing heavy rains. 

“This is a massive rescue operation involving personnel from different state agencies  as well as several rescue helicopters and boats, marine divers and swimmers, who are on site now to rescue people trapped and search for missing ones,” a Civil Defence Department (CDD) official told The Jordan Times.

Landlocked between Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth and prone to sudden flooding in heavy rains.

The tragedy this week mark the second mass fatality on its shores this year. In April, nine teenage Israeli hikers were swept to their deaths by floodwaters. 

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