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Following the deaths of 10 Israeli teenagers who died on Thursday afternoon in a flash flood near the Dead Sea, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman took to Twitter to offer his condolences on Friday.

The hike was organised by a Tel Aviv-based institute that offers a one-year programme for young people wishing to postpone their military service, compulsory in Israel, in order to strengthen themselves mentally and physically.

Israel's rescue service says nine teenagers have died in flash floods while hiking south of the Dead Sea.

They were part of a group of around 25 hikers taking part in the training. The remaining 15 students from the group were rescued, and two of them were treated for hypothermia, according to the Times.

The usually dry areas of North Africa and the Middle East have been hit by intermittent heavy rainfall in recent days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded the calamity a "grave disaster", in a statement.

A survivor who witnessed a almost 10-foot wave sweep his friends away told local media, "I saw bodies floating in the water".

One of her friends replied that she was sure the organisers knew what they were doing.

"These students were really the highest quality of our society", Glick told reporters. "Little girl, girl with so much energy and happiness", she said. It doesn't make sense to go to a place that's completely flooded.

According to the Israel National News website, an email sent by a staff member to a concerned student before the hike said: "Do not worry".

The floods also claimed the lives of two children from Israel's Bedouin community who were washed away in separate torrents on Wednesday.