A woman from Florida in her 20s fell from a cliff and died while hiking at Masada in extreme heat on Tuesday.
Magen David Adom paramedic Uri Tzahi said he found a woman with signs of heat stroke and injuries across her body, lying near the base of a cliff. Paramedics pronounced her dead.
She had fallen from a height of 8 meters, MDA said.
The woman was one of three people from Florida State University who decided to walk down the site’s snake path before the 11 a.m. closing time, Eitan Campbell, the director of Masada National Park, told The Jerusalem Post.
“They separated,” he said.
“Two were in a hurry to get to the building, and the deceased took more time. For some reason, she found her way into the wadi and continued maybe 300 meters in the intense heat today.”
The young woman may have fallen while trying to climb out of the wadi, but the incident is still under investigation, Campbell said.
“Why she strayed off of the path is not clear,” he added. “Sadly, it ended up this way.”
National park inspectors keep an eye out on happenings below from the cable cars that run to the top of the site, but once someone strays from the path, it is difficult to locate him or her, Campbell explained.
“This is what we’re not clear on – why she got off a very clear, recognized path,” he said.
Campbell stressed that the park follows very strict rules during such hot weather, and did so on Tuesday, enabling 1,300 visitors to experience the site safely.
“When the [Israel] Meteorological Service declares extreme weather conditions, we have our mode of operation and it works,” he said. “We close the path going up at 9 a.m. and the [path] going down at 11 a.m.”
Temperatures across the country were extremely high on Tuesday for the second day in a row. It was slightly hotter on Tuesday than Monday in the mountains and in the Jordan Rift, according to IMS climate department head Dr. Amos Porat.
Temperatures in the Jordan Valley and the Arava reached 43-46°C (109.4-114.8°F), IMS stations recorded.
In the Dead Sea region, a picture taken by a MDA team showed the thermometer inside their ambulance reading 48° (118.4°).
The sweltering heat affected dozens of visitors to the Dead Sea, including a group of 25 women in their late teens who were taken to Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, suffering from dehydration. They were part of a group of tourists from the United States, MDA said.
While extremely high temperatures were recorded in these desert regions, the Coastal Plain experienced cooler weather in comparison to Monday, Porat said. The humidity rose on the coast, however.
On Wednesday, temperatures are expected to drop in most areas around the country, he added.