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At least 18 school children die in Jordan flash flood

‘The students were on a school trip and it appears that a mudslide along the road swept their bus away’

Amman: At least 18 people, mainly schoolchildren and teachers, were killed on Thursday in a flash flood near Jordan’s Dead Sea that happened while they were on an outing, rescuers and hospital workers said.

Several more students were injured in the incident near the Dead Sea, said an official from the civil defence, Jordan’s fire service, who asked not to be named.

“Heavy rains caused a flash flood close to the Dead Sea that washed away a school bus carrying 37 students and seven minders,” the official said.

“The students were on a school trip and it appears that a mudslide along the road swept their bus away,” the official said.

Civil defence spokesman said the number of casualties was expected to rise.

Many people were rescued in an major operation involving police helicopters and hundreds of army troops, police chief Brigadier General Farid al Sharaa told state television.

Some of those rescued were in a serious condition

Many of those killed were children under 14. A number of families picnicking in the popular destination were also among the dead and injured, rescuers said, without giving a breakdown of numbers.

Hundreds of families and relatives converged on Shounah hospital a few kilometers from the resort area. Relatives sobbed and searched for details about the missing children, a witness said.

King Abdullah of Jordan cancelled a trip to Bahrain to follow the rescue operations, state media said.

Civil defence spokesman said the number of casualties was expected to rise. Rescue workers using flashlights were searching the cliffs near the shore of the Dead Sea where bodies had been found.

A witness said a bus with 37 schoolchildren and seven teachers had been on a trip to the resort area when the raging flood waters swept them into a valley.

Heavy rains hit Jordan on Thursday afternoon, causing floods in several areas.

The Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth, is surrounded by steep valley slopes that frequently witness flash floods and landslides.

Mohammad Bin Rashid offers condolences

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted: “Our hearts are with the people of Jordan, and we share their pain in the incident in which a school bus was swept away by a flash flood. May the souls of the children rest in eternal Paradise. May Allah have mercy on their souls. Our heartfelt condolences to the people of Jordan during this difficult time.”

UAE Embassy warning

UAE Embassy in Amman calls on Emirati nationals in Jordan to follow the public safety guidelines, and the embassy calls upon its citizens to contact the following emergency numbers if necessary: ‎065934780-065934781, according to Jordan News Agency.

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