At least 20 dead as school bus is swept away by flash flood in Jordan

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Most of the victims are believed to be children - as rescuers search for survivors of the tragedy near the Dead Sea

Rescuers are searching today for survivors of a flash flood in Jordan that killed at least 20 people - most of them children on a school bus.

Torrential rains swept away the vehicle that was taking students and teachers on an outing near the Dead Sea yesterday.

"Heavy rains caused a flash flood close to the Dead Sea that washed away a school bus carrying 37 students and seven minders," said a fire service official.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said it appeared the school had broken education ministry regulations that banned trips to the area due to bad weather.

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth and is surrounded by steep valley slopes that often see flash floods and landslides. Climate change experts warned last year that an increase in sudden and extreme weather conditions meant Jordan will face more flash floods and unexpected frosts.

A bridge on one of the Dead Sea cliffs had collapsed because of the heavy rain - the first major downpour after the end of the summer season. Many parts of Jordan were hit by flooding.