JERUSALEM - Nine youths died Thursday after having been swept away by flash floods in southern Israel during a hiking trip near the Dead Sea, the Magen David Adom rescue service said. Rescue efforts were ongoing to find a missing girl from a group of youths taking part in a programme to prepare them for military service, according to media reports. Students in such programmes are usually around the age of 18. A major rescue effort had earlier been launched to find what had initially been reported as several missing. “Police & Emergency teams working together after flash floods struck the south of Israel near the Dead Sea where students were on a day trip,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted.