Flash floods: Eilat exit closed, dad of pair killed says other son meant to join them

Father of Ma’ayan and Sahar Assor says daughter managed to send location before connection was lost; drivers, hikers told to stay away from riverbeds

A flooded road in the south on April 12, 2023 (Israel Police)
A flooded road in the south on April 12, 2023 (Israel Police)

The road exit to the southern city of Eilat was blocked due to flooding for the second time in two days on Wednesday as the spell of cold and rainy weather continued, with authorities warning of the ongoing risk of dangerous flash floods until Thursday.

In addition to the exit to Eilat, a number of other roads were blocked in the south of the country including Highway 90 from the Arava Interchange to the Menucha Interchange.

Authorities said that travelers and hikers must stay away from riverbeds and that drivers should check for updates on potential road closures before setting out.

A number of national parks in the south were closed or partially closed due to the potential danger of sudden torrents of water.

On Tuesday rescue workers found the bodies of a brother and sister who went missing after their car was carried away by a flash flood in the south a day earlier.

The two fatalities were identified as Ma’ayan Assor, 24, and Sahar Assor, 17,  residents of the northern city of Tiberias.

Ma’ayan Assor, 25, (left) and Sahar Assor, 17 (right) who were killed when they were swept away in floods in southern Israel on April 10, 2023 (Courtesy)

A third woman who was with them — Ma’ayan’s girlfriend, who has not been publicly named — was located and rescued.

Nini Assor, the siblings’ father, said Wednesday that Sahar had managed to send them their location before the connection was lost and that miraculously, another of his children had not been in the car with them.

“We went to Eilat in two cars and split up along the way,” he said. “My son, my daughter, and his girlfriend were driving along Highway 40 and we were driving through the Arava Highway, when they got caught in the flood.”

“When the torrential rain started, my daughter was in contact with my wife. She told us what was happening. We understand that he lost control of the car when he got caught in the flood,” Nini said. “[Sahar] managed to send us their location at the last minute, but then the connection was lost.”

Nini said that he and his wife Kinneret have two more sons, and it had been planned that one of the boys would switch vehicles when they stopped for a break, and join Sahar and Ma’ayan for the next leg of the journey.

“We sat and ate and then there was suddenly rain so we quickly got into the car and he stayed with us,” Nini said. “One set of rain saved us from a bigger disaster, but the other rain took our two [children].”

Ma’ayan’s girlfriend, 21, was in good condition, though she was suffering from mild hypothermia, the MDA ambulance service said.

Recounting the ordeal to paramedics, the woman said the car was swept from the road by a powerful torrent. As the car began to fill with water, the group abandoned the vehicle.

She said she was carried by the stream multiple kilometers as she sought to keep her head above water, before finally finding refuge on rocks by the side of the stream.

Earlier Monday, three women caught up in a flood in their vehicle near Eilat were rescued and transported to Yoseftal Hospital in the city for frostbite treatment, police said.

The military said Israeli Air Force helicopters and forces from the IDF’s Unit 669, a combat rescue and evacuation force, rescued multiple civilians Monday night across southern Israel, in cooperation with the Israel Police, Magen David Adom medics, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, and regional rescue units.

Authorities urged “citizens to show responsibility and not go near the flood areas.”

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