At least 18 dead after school trip swept away by flash flooding in Jordan

At least 18 people were killed when flash floods swept away a group of teachers and students visiting hot springs near the Dead Sea on Thursday, Jordan's state media has said.

The private school students and their teachers were caught off guard when sudden torrential rains unleashed a flood surge which swept away their bus, according to reports.

At least 34 people were rescued in a dramatic operation involving helicopters, marine divers, swimmers and boats, the Jordan Times said.

As night fell, huge spotlights were trained on the search area and Israel's military said it had also dispatched helicopters carrying a rescue team.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz rushed to the scene, overseeing part of the rescue operation and visiting the wounded in hospital.

As the death toll rose, Jordan's King Abdullah II announced he had canceled a visit to Bahrain planned for Friday.