Jordan flood death toll rises to 20, majority school pupils


At least 18 people, majority children, have been killed after raging floodwaters swept away a school bus near the Dead Sea.

At least 17 are dead; more than 20 were injured.

The Israeli military said on Thursday it was helping with the operation, sending helicopters and forces specialised in search and rescue.

A rescue operation was launched with police helicopters and hundreds of soldiers saving 34 people, some of whom are in a serious condition.

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Dozens more were missing, students and civilians whose bus was swept away by flash flooding as they were traveling there.

Brig. Gen. Farid al-Sharaa, a Civil Defense spokesman, said Friday that the flooding was one of the deadliest incidents in recent memory involving schoolchildren. 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 flooding occurred after heavy rainfall, the first such rains after the end of the summer season.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said it appeared the school had broken regulations by the ministry of education that banned trips to the Dead Sea due to bad weather. The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, divides Jordan from Israel and the West Bank.

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"We are especially able to sympathize with the Jordanian families because we also experienced a similar tragedy last April, when 10 students perished following torrential rains that caused flash floods during their trip in the desert", Maj.

Authorities started searching for survivors around 2:00pm when heavy rain was still pouring, according to a CDD officer, who underscored that the search path starts from the mountains overlooking the Dead Sea and stretches down over five to six kilometres of very tough topography and water valleys.

Jordan's King Abdullah II canceled a planned working visit to Bahrain, initially scheduled for Friday.

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