Jerusalem: Flash floods caused by by torrential rains washed away school students and teachers visiting hot springs near the Dead Sea on Thursday. Eighteen people were killed and 35 were injured as the floods carried some away for several kilometres, according to a Jordanian civil defence official.

According to Jordan's police chief Brigadier General Farid Al Sharaa, some of those hit by the floods survived by holding on to the rocks and 13 people escaped without injuries.

Israel’s military said that they had dispatched a search and rescue team at the request of Jordan’s government. The rescue operation involving helicopters and divers resumed into the night. 

Al-Sharaa revealed that 37 middle school students and seven teachers were having their lunch at the hot springs near the Dead Sea on Thursday when they were taken by surprise by the floods.

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are 430.5 metres (1,412 ft) below the sea level, making it the lowest point on earth.

The area is prone to flash floods given its arid conditions and deep canyons. In April, 10 Israeli students were killed after being washed away by a flash floods near the Dead Sea.

Jordan prime minister Omar Razzaz rushed to the accident spot and later visited the wounded in hospital.

As the death toll continued to rise, Jordan’s King Abdullah II announced the cancellation of his visit to Bahrain, which was scheduled for Friday.