Searches for survivors at Nahal Tzafit
Searches for survivors at Nahal Tzafit Hadas Parush/Flash90

Three female Israeli high school students may have been saved from disaster by a math exam.

On Thursday afternoon, a group of 25 teenagers took part in a hike in Nahal Tzafit west of the Dead Sea.

The hike, organized by the Bnei Tzion pre-army preparatory academy, was intended as a bonding experience for students slated to begin their studies at the Tel Aviv academy after graduating from high school later this year.

But the trip ended in tragedy, when a flash flood drowned ten of the teens, all of whom were between the ages of 17 to 18.

At least one of the students who took part in the hike predicted the trip would end in disaster, writing a text message to a friend about her anxiety over the hike.

“It makes no sense for us to go out [hiking] in a place that is totally flooded. It’s like tempting fate. Seriously, we’re going to die,” the girl wrote less than 24 hours before the fateful trip.

Three other students dropped out of the hike shortly beforehand, Yediot Ahronot reported Friday, not because of fears over the weather, but due to stress over an upcoming exam.

The three female students, all 12th graders from Maccabim-Reut High School in Modiin in central Israel, had been scheduled to take part in the hike for incoming Bnei Tzion program participants. Worried about an upcoming math test, however, the three girls dropped out in order to set aside more time to prepare for the exam.

Following the disaster, Israel Police told Reshet Bet they had repeatedly warned against travelling in the area.

"The group of youths went on a trip to Nahal Tzafit despite our repeated warnings not to travel in the southern valleys," police spokeswoman Meirav Lapidot said.

"It's a terrible tragedy and it's easy to avoid such disasters. All you have to do is listen to instructions," she added. "We are issuing many warnings all the time, and it is unfortunate that we have reached this situation."

Police interrogated three school administrators in connection with the disaster, and placed two of them under arrest. The third was released to house arrest.