AMMAN — Flash floods in Jordan swept away a school bus on Thursday, killing at least 17 people, mostly pupils, emergency services said, as Israel sent forces to help with rescue operations.
At least 25 more people 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.
Most of those killed and injured were pupils, and rescue workers were continuing to search for survivors, he said.
"The students were on a school trip and it appears that a mudslide along the road swept their bus away," the official said.
Israel’s military said it was helping with the operation, sending helicopters and forces specialised in search and rescue.
"Currently assisting Jordan in rescuing a bus full of children swept away in a flood on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea," it wrote on Twitter.
Israel’s military said that on the request of the Jordanian government, it had sent an unspecified number of helicopters to assist in the operation.
It said that rescue teams were doing everything they could despite poor weather.
The Jordanian operation’s commander, Farid al-Sharaa, said forces from multiple emergency services were taking part in the operation.
He said heavy rains had started around 3:00 PM (1200 GMT) and caused the flash flood "within an hour".
Jordanian television reported that King Abdullah II had cancelled a planned visit to Bahrain following the accident, and that Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz headed to the site of the accident to oversee rescue operations.
Government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat told state television that "tonight, every household in Jordan is sad, it is a tough and painful night for all Jordanians."
Heavy rains hit Jordan on Thursday afternoon, causing floods in several areas.
The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is surrounded by steep valley slopes that frequently host flash floods and landslides. — AFP