updated 5/12/2007 8:53:29 PM ET 2007-05-13T00:53:29

Four Israeli rock climbers were killed Saturday in flash floods that ripped through canyons around the Dead Sea, rescue services said.

The national ambulance service said the victims were three men and a woman in their 20s who had been in a group of 11 in the area, a rocky region of deep ravines, caves and lofty crags. The others were rescued, local media reported.

The Dead Sea, the world's lowest point at about 1,400 feet below sea level, is surrounded by desert and generally arid cliffs. In spring, however, rain falling miles away in Jerusalem and neighboring hills can come rushing down the steep descents, causing sudden and violent torrents in otherwise dry spots.

"It was an enormous amount of water, coming down in several falls of 40 to 50 meters (130-160 feet)," rescue team member Chemi Leib told Channel One television. "These guys were hanging on their ropes and when that amount of water arrives there's no chance to survive it."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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