At Least 44 People Killed In An Israel Religious Festival Crush
At least 44 people have been killed in a stampede at a religious festival in the northeast of Israel.
At least 44 people were crumpled to death at an overcrowded religious bonfire festival in Israel on Friday the national emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) says.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the dreadful event as a “heavy disaster”.
This has been the largest event in Israel since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Dozens of ambulances attended the scene and emergency services laid out bodies under foil covers on the ground as police asked everyone at the site to evacuate.
38 people have been reported by the emergency officials to be in critical condition.
“MDA is fighting for the lives of dozens wounded, and will not give up until the last victim is evacuated,” a tweet read.
Videos posted online show thousands of people tightly packed together for the event, before struggling to flee the chaos as the incident unfolded.
One pilgrim reportedly thought there was a bomb alert when loudhailer messages were heard urging the crowds to disperse.
Early reports suggested a structure at the site collapsed, but MDA officials later said it was the result of a stampede. Police sources say that it started after some attendees slipped on some steps, causing dozens more to fall.
What is the Lag B’Omer festival?
Tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews make a pilgrimage to Meron each year for Lag B’Omer, an annual religious holiday marked with all-night bonfires, prayer, and dancing.
The town is the site of the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century sage, and is considered to be one of the holiest sites in the Jewish world.
According to the Times of Israel, organizers estimated that 100,000 people arrived on Thursday night, with more due to arrive on Friday.