The search for a teen who went missing after being swept away in a flash flood during a school hike at Nahal Tzafit in the southern Dead Sea area of the Judean Desert, has been temporarily suspended.
Nine of the teens were killed by the vicious current. Fifteen others were pulled to safety, albeit with two 18-year-olds taken to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva in fair condition, with a range of injuries and suffering from moderate hypothermia. Their fellow students had minor injuries, mostly bruises from being battered by the roaring waters.
A medic and two guides who came with the group also managed to survive; but the missing teen had not been in visual contact with the group since the flash flood drove them apart. The students were on a school trip from a pre-military yeshiva academy in Tel Aviv. Shaken family members gathered at the school — and some at the hospital — to glean whatever information they could.
“In accordance with an assessment of current conditions led by the commissioner due to the weather conditions and the risk to rescue forces, it was decided to [temporarily] suspend the search at this hour,” said a spokesperson for the Israel Police Negev Region. He added, “They will resume as soon as possible.”
Southern District Fire Brigade spokesperson Eli Cohen told media that all Southern District rescue forces, plus additional assistance that has arrived from other districts, “will remain close to the scene and resume operations as soon as possible to assist and end the event.
“It is important to note that the search and rescue operations in the field are very complex and dangerous because of the weather conditions and the terrain, and at the moment it is also very dark.”
IDF personnel assisting in the search include members of the Israel Air Force 669 Search & Rescue Unit, a combat helicopter, the commander of the 80th division, a medical team fro the “Cheetah” battalion, three Yasur helicopters and two Owl helicopters, a military spokesperson said in a statement.
“The IDF will continue to assist in the search by any means necessary.”