Israel’s rainy season should be drawing to a close, but unusually late floods managed to strand dozens of hikers in the country’s southern Arava region Wednesday, Israel National News reported. According to the news outlet, rescue workers on their way to retrieve one group happened upon another which was also trapped by sudden rushing waters.
Sixteen youths, roughly 18 years of age, became stranded at a branch of the Tzalmon River. The Arava rescue unit was dispatched to assist them. The teens, whom Channel 2 reported to be safe throughout, were forced to wait while their rescuers first attended to a second group of trapped hikers they encountered on their way. Those 15 hikers were transported to safety by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
All told, the southern district police’s Arava rescue unit sent out six teams in ATVs to aid the teenagers. They reported that rains were expected to weaken, making their efforts easier. Should it become necessary, an air rescue also remains an option.
Wednesday’s rains also wreaked havoc with traffic flow in the south, with erosion and flooding affecting Highway 90 near Ein Hatzeva in the Negev desert. A bus carrying 35 students was forced to wait several minutes along that stretch before continuing, due to flood concerns, and police eventually closed the road in both directions. Other road closures include part of Highway 40 near Tziporim Junction, as well as the entrance to the town Neot Hakikar.
Israel has been experiencing unusual weather for the season over the past couple of months. Unseasonably mild temperatures in February were followed immediately by extreme rains causing flooding, and the weather is also partially responsible for the collapse of several Gaza terror tunnels reaching under the Israeli border.