A major highway near the Dead Sea was closed to traffic in either direction on Friday evening after part of the road collapsed due to heavy flooding.
Photos and videos posted online showed Route 90 near the Kidron River split in half after large portions of the pavement crumbled several meters into the ground.
Rainfall throughout the day Friday caused flooding in a number of areas in the Judaean Desert and northern Negev.
Police said the military’s elite search-and-rescue Unit 669 was dispatched to find four hikers in Nahal Og who were stranded in a cave by rising floodwaters. The hikers were pulled to safely via military helicopter, and one was hospitalized for minor injuries, according to a statement.
The rain is expected to continue throughout the weekend in southern and eastern Israel. Flash flood alerts have been issued for the Dead Sea area, specifically in riverbeds and other low laying areas.
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In a statement, police warned that other parts of Route 90 may be at risk of collapse due to the flash flooding, and told drivers to exercise extreme caution when driving in the area.
In the last three weeks, 17 people have been killed on the road which runs from Metula in the north to Eilat in the south. Last Tuesday, eight members of one family were killed in a head-on collision near the Dead Sea. On Sunday, six Palestinians from East Jerusalem died in a similar crash in the Jordan Valley.
The accidents promoted calls for parts of the road to be upgraded, but Transportation Minister Israel Katz on Thursday said such demands were “unreasonable” from both a traffic and a safety perspective.