Rescue workers on Tuesday found the bodies of a brother and sister who went missing after their car was carried away by a flash flood in southern Israel the day before. A third woman who was with them was located and rescued.
The two fatalities were identified as Ma’ayan, 24, and Sahar, 17, Assor, both residents of the northern city of Tiberias.
Israel was hit by stormy weather and heavy winds Monday afternoon just as many flocked to nature sites to enjoy the outdoors over the weeklong Passover holiday.
The rescued woman, 21, was in good condition, though she was suffering from mild hypothermia, the MDA ambulance service said.
She was spotted by an Israeli Air Force helicopter dispatched to locate the group.
Authorities continued to search for the remaining two individuals for several hours and on Monday evening announced that they had found their bodies in the swollen waters.
Rescuers managed to extricate them from the waters but were forced to declare them dead at the scene, police and the army said.
“These are very difficult times for the entire city,” said Tiberias Mayor Boaz Yossef. “Since last night we are all praying and hoping for good news and a miracle on this Passover holiday, but the worst has happened.”
“We are here to support the parents, Nini and Kinneret, and the brothers Tomer and Guy. The Assor family are part of the Tiberias family and we are all here to support them,” he 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.
The trio managed to contact authorities to report they were caught up in a flash flood. Contact with the three was lost Monday evening, police said.
Meanwhile, authorities on Tuesday morning reopened Highway 90, the main highway connecting the southernmost city of Eilat with the rest of the country, though other local roads remained closed for fear of further flooding.
Police had earlier warned of potential flash floods in the Judean Desert, and closed segments of two highways running through southern Israel.
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.
As of early Tuesday morning, police said 60 people had been rescued from flooding in the area, amid over 100 calls to authorities over the night for help.
Authorities urged “citizens to show responsibility and not go near the flood areas.”
Earlier Monday, a teenage girl was moderately hurt after a tree toppled on her at the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel amid heavy winds. The 18-year-old suffered a head injury due to the collapsed tree, near Kibbutz Ein Gev.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said paramedics took the injured teen by helicopter to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment.
In a separate incident at Kibbutz Beit Kama, north of Beersheba, a large tree toppled at a preschool, crushing equipment in the yard. No children were hurt, as teachers took the kids inside when heavy winds picked up.
Video from the scene showed the tree crushed an outside covered area at the preschool.
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“How frightening,” a kibbutz resident told Channel 12. “What luck that a minute or two before, they brought [the children] in.”
The stormy weather was set to continue into Wednesday with some thunderstorms and potential flash floods expected in coastal cities. Some snow was expected in the Hermon Mountain area in the north on Wednesday.