Jordan floods: Schoolchildren among 19 dead after bus swept away

At least 19 people, mostly children, killed when rains swept away a group of teachers and students touring the Dead Sea.

    At least 19 people, mostly children, were killed when torrential rains swept away a bus carrying students and teachers touring near the Dead Sea, according to sources in the country's civil defence directorate.

    The director general of the kingdom's Civil Defence, Mustafa al-Basaiah, said on Friday that 13 of the dead were middle school students.

    The official news agency Petra said  37 students, along with seven adults, had been touring near the Dead Sea when heavy rains unleashed flash floods in the area.

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

    Petra said Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz was on the scene to oversee the rescue mission. King Abdullah also cancelled a trip to Bahrain to follow the rescue operations, Petra reported. 

    It was reported that Jordanian authorities requested Israeli assistance in the search and rescue effort.

    Israel sent search-and-rescue helicopters to help, an Israeli military statement said.

    It said the Israeli team, was operating on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, where a bus carrying the students and teachers was swept into a valley by rain-stoked floodwaters. Heavy rain is set to continue across the region into Friday. 

    Thursday's incident is the second tragedy resulting from flooding near the Dead Sea this year. 

    A child survivor is helped as residents and relatives gather outside a hospital near the Dead Sea [Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]

    SOURCE: News agencies