Military choppers called in to rescue group stranded by floods in Israeli south
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Military choppers called in to rescue group stranded by floods in Israeli south

Nature and Parks Authority says it has responded to 11 incidents of hikers caught in high waters over the weekend

Two military helicopters were sent Saturday afternoon to help in rescue efforts in southern Israel after around twenty people were caught in a flood during an off-road excursion.

Rescuers extricated the group from Arod River, one member of which required medical attention and was taken to hospital.

Two more people who were stranded in the area were later rescued, and rescue forces were checking whether anyone else required assistance.

In a separate incident 12 hikers were caught in a flood in the south but managed to extricate themselves to safety.

Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry said Saturday it had managed to make contact with all previously missing Israeli travelers in southern Jordan, amid deadly flash floods across several areas that have so far claimed the lives of 12 people since Friday.

The ministry had earlier said two Israeli tourists were unreachable but later stated that they had been found. An additional four Israeli tourists in Jordan were said earlier to be safe.

The Nature and Parks Authority said it had dealt with 11 incidents over the weekend in which hikers required rescue due to floods. On Friday 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.

On Saturday evening a major road near the Dead Sea was reopened after a part of it collapsed Friday due to heavy flooding, halting traffic in both directions.

Rainfall throughout the day Friday caused flooding in a number of areas in the Judaean Desert and northern Negev. Flash flood alerts were issued for the Dead Sea area, specifically in riverbeds and other low laying areas.

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.

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.

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