At least nine teenagers were killed and one is missing after a flash flood interrupted their hiking trip in southern Israel near the Dead Sea on Thursday.
The group of 25 young people had been on a trip organized by Bnei Zion, a pre-military academy in Israel, the New York Times reported. They were hiking in the Nahal Tzafit riverbed, which is typically extremely dry. However, heavy rainfall over the last two days flooded the area.
Police, volunteers and military teams set out searching for the missing student but the search was suspended as night fell, according to Reuters. The remaining 15 students from the group were rescued, and two of them were treated for hypothermia, according to the Times.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident a “terrible disaster” in a statement on Twitter and praised the first responders. “We are all praying for better news,” he added.
Police said they would open an investigation into the incident to understand why the group proceeded with their hike in such intense weather conditions, the Times reported. A spokeswoman for the police said the group may have ignored official warnings that the area was not safe due to the rainstorms.