Flash floods: 18 killed in this Middle East country

At least 17 dead, dozens missing in Dead Sea floods

They were swept away when a heavy downpour on Thursday sent flash floods towards the area where the students and other picnickers were sitting.

Jordan's Dead Sea area has been hit by deadly flash flooding.

For his part, King Abdullah II cancelled a trip to Bahrain to follow the rescue operations, ordered flags to be lowered to half-mast and announced a three-day mourning period.

"My grief and pain are huge, matched only by my anger towards those who failed to take the necessary measures that could have prevented this painful incident from happening", King Abdullah said in a rare tweet on Friday.

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"I console Jordan and myself for losing members of my large family". In a message on his Twitter account, the monarch said that "the pain of each father, mother and family is my pain".

The monarch later chaired a meeting of the National Policies Council, a group of high-level officials.

At least 19 people died and another 35 wounded over a flash flood near Jordan's Dead Sea, the officials said on Friday. The spokesman said the students were from a middle school.

The government was swift to denounce the school for flouting ministry regulations.

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He posted a copy of the school's field trip permit, which had named a different destination - not the Dead Sea.

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He reportedly instructed state agencies to provide all needed assistance to ensure the safety of the students. The decision, which is awaiting the outcome of initial police and parliamentary investigations to the Dead Sea tragedy, is expected within days, sources confirmed.

Israel and Jordan braced for the first major storm of the winter on Thursday, with strong winds, heavy rains, and flooding expected to batter the country.

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Earlier Thursday, a 4-year-old boy was carried away by the water in southern Israel and was declared dead at a Beersheba hospital after paramedics found him near the Bedouin town of Kuseife, unable to resuscitate him.

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