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A bus carrying 50 schoolgirls from Jerusalem was swept away yesterday near the Tze'elim river, close to Ein Gedi, following heavy rains in the south of the country.

Rescue workers, aided by Israel Defense Forces helicopters, safely evacuated all the passengers from the bus, which was swept away after the driver lost control of the vehicle.

The heavy rains also caused floods in several parts of the Dan region yesterday.

In Bnei Brak, a kindergarten was flooded, as were several main streets, causing severe traffic jams.

Fire department spokesman, Moshe Mosko, said that ten calls had been received from Bnei Brak residents whose apartments had flooded.

Firefighters were also called in to rescue a family of four, including a 1-and-a-half-year-old baby, whose car had got stuck in a huge puddle on Bnei Brak's Hashomer Street.

The Route 90 entry to and exit from the southernmost city of Eilat was blocked after heavy rains caused floods on the road near Masada and near Ein Gedi.

The storm peaked yesterday afternoon, with thunderstorms and hail showers in some parts. Flood warnings were issued for the Judean Desert area.

Tzachi Wacksman of the Meteotech meteorology company said that in Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak, more than 40 millimeters of rain fell in a 12-hour period. In Ra'anana, 31 millimeters of rain was recorded, 15 millimeters in Ashdod and 10 milimeters in the northern part of the Negev.

Wacksman also said that another system of bad weather is due to move into the country on Thursday, with even heavier rainfall expected. There is a danger of flooding and the first snowfall is expected on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights.