130 teens rescued from flooded campsites near Eilat
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130 teens rescued from flooded campsites near Eilat

Sudden downpour and hail storm causes flash floods; Eilat Airport shut, major roads closed

One of the Eilat vehicles of the Eilat police rescue unit arrives at the scene of the flooding early Wednesday morning March 1, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)
One of the Eilat vehicles of the Eilat police rescue unit arrives at the scene of the flooding early Wednesday morning March 1, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Police on Wednesday rescued 130 teens who were trapped at two desert campsites near the southern city of Eilat after a sudden storm cause heavy flooding in the region.

Heavy rain and large hail caused flash floods that shut down the Eilat Airport, the main road leading to the Dead Sea resort town and the neighboring Egyptian town of Taba, as well as a nearby air force base.

The teens, 12th graders from the upper Galilee, were all in good health, said Shraga Green, the head of the police rescue unit in Eilat.

“When the rain started at 4:30 a.m., we went out to check on the group at the campsite,” Green told Army Radio. They had been hiking in the area and spent the night at two campsites in the Nahal Netafim canyon.

The rescue team found the high school students trapped due to the heavy rains and in need of extraction.

“Forecasters had talked about light rain, so we were surprised by the large hailstorm and heavy rains that caused flooding,” he said.

All 130 students were rescued by volunteers of the police rescue unit, which used jeeps to reach the cut-off area.

“They were transferred to Eilat and are now safe and sound,” the Israel Police tweeted later.

None of the students were injured by the hail, and there were no reports of hypothermia, Green said, adding that “they enjoyed the experience more than anything else.”

The storm forced the Eilat airport to close temporarily Wednesday morning while the runways were cleared from flooding.

Several roads, including parts of Israel’s longest highway, Route 90, were also shut.

Temperatures are expected to remain chilly on Thursday with rains in the country’s north and center, but the storms are expected to ease by the afternoon. Forecasters predict a more mild and warm weekend.

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