Another body was found on Friday morning raising the death toll to ten students, nine girls and one boy, from the Bnei Zion pre-military academy in Tel Aviv who were killed from flash flooding near the Dead Sea. The group of 25 students were hiking in the Tzapit river, which had been a dry riverbed until unseasonal rains struck Israel over the last few days. More than 20 students from the academy were caught in the flash flood.
Police, civilians and units from the elite 669 Search and Rescue unit of the Israeli Air Force immediately conducted searches. Soroka Hospital in Beersheba issued a statement saying that some of the injured were en-route by helicopter to the hospital.
Seven of the ten fatalities were identified as of Thursday night as Shani Shamir from the central city of Shoham; Ella Or from Ma’ale Adumim; Maayan Barhum and Yael Sadan from Jerusalem; Tzur Alfi, the only boy who was killed, from the central town of Mazkeret Batya; Agam Levy from the central Israeli town of Herut; and Romi Cohen of Maor, near Hadera.
The principal and instructor of the academy were arrested on Friday morning on suspicion of negligent homicide. Police sources stated that the two were questioned on their decision to continue with the hike despite storm warnings the previous day.
Israel has been hit by unseasonal heavy rains over the last two days, leading to flooding in some areas in the south.
On Wednesday, a 16-year-old Bedouin boy was swept away in the Mamshit Stream in the southern Negev, and a 17-year-old Palestinian girl who was herding sheep in the hills east of Bethlehem was killed after being swept away in a flash flood.