AT least 18 people have been killed in flash floods after a schoolbus was swept away in Jordan.
The bus carrying 37 pupils and seven members of staff was washed away on a school trip near the Dead Sea.
Most of those killed are reported to be school children under 14 - and officials said the death toll was expected to rise.
The pupils were heading on a trip to the Zara Maeen hot springs when they were swept away.
A number of families picnicking at the popular destination were said to be among the dead and injured.
A huge rescue operation is underway and Israel has sent helicopters to help with the frantic search for survivors.
So far 24 people have been rescued from the area, according to Reuters.
Some are said to be in a serious condition.
Police chief Brig Gen Farid al-Sharaa told state TV that the flood had surged for up to three miles.
He said: "There were people who ended up in the sea water and there were people who managed to reach rocks and save themselves. Thank God we managed to save 13 people without any injuries."
Jordan's King Abdulla was due to visit Bahrain today but cancelled the trip due to the tragedy, local media reported.
The Israeli military said it had sent a number of helicopters with soldiers from an elite search and rescue unit.
Troops are trying to find missing people in adverse weather conditions, a statement said.
An education ministrty official said the students were from a private school, but specific details of the the victims have not been released.
The official, who was not named, said it was surprising the school trip had gone ahead despite weather warnings.
Heavy rain has been moving across the region for days.
Some streets in Amman have been clogged with trafficf jams, while hailstorms have battered other areas.
The flash-flooding tragedy is the second to strike near the Dead Sea this year.
In April, nine teenagers were swept away and killed in Nahal Tzafit, southern Israel. A further 15 were rescued.