Nine teenagers have died after being caught in a flash flood in the Tzapit River Valley in southern Israel on Thursday 26 April 2018. The nine were on an exercise with a pre-military training course organised by the Bnei Zion Academy in Tel Aviv, when the bus they were in was carried away by a surge that swept down the valley. The nine were part of a group of 24, and have been described as eight boys and a girl, though they have not been named. Two other teenagers were injured in the incident. Concerns have been raised as to why the exercise was taking place, as storm warnings had been issued for the area.
Like many desert areas southern Israel, while generally arid, is prone to occasional severe flooding. This stems from two causes; firstly the arid climate prevents the development of a thick soil layer which would be expected in less dry areas, so that in much of the area (non-porous) bedrock is either exposed or close to the surface, and secondly the hot climate leads to heavy evaporation from nearby seas and oceans, so that if the wind changes direction and brings water-laden air to the area, it brings a lot of precipitation with it. This combination of heavy rainfall and low ground absorbency leads to large amounts of water at the surface, typically moving downhill at some speed. Wadis, dry channels or ravines through which these sudden floods are channelled, can be particularly dangerous at these times, particularly as they often appear to resemble natural pathways or even camp sites to people unfamiliar with the climate.
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