A stampede broke out early Friday at a Jewish non secular competition attended by tens of hundreds of individuals in northern Israel, killing practically 40 individuals and leaving some 150 hospitalized, medical officers stated.
The stampede, one of many deadliest civilian disasters in Israeli historical past, occurred in the course of the celebrations of Lag BaOmer at Mount Meron. Tens of hundreds of individuals, principally ultra-Orthodox Jews, collect annually to honor Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage and mystic who’s buried there. Giant crowds historically mild bonfires, pray and dance as a part of the celebrations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu known as it a “nice tragedy,” and stated everybody was praying for the victims.
Media estimated the group at about 100,000 individuals.
WATCH | Dozens injured at Israeli non secular gathering:
Eli Beer, director of the Hatzalah rescue service, stated he was horrified by how crowded the occasion was, saying the location was geared up to deal with maybe 1 / 4 of the quantity who have been there.
“Near 40 individuals died because of this tragedy,” he advised the station.
The incident occurred after midnight, and the reason for the stampede was not instantly clear. Movies circulating on social media confirmed giant numbers of ultra-Orthodox Jews packed collectively in tight areas.
A 24-year-old witness, recognized solely by his first identify Dvir, advised the Military Radio station that “lots of individuals have been pushed into the identical nook and a vortex was created.” He stated a primary row of individuals fell down, after which a second row, the place he was standing, additionally started to fall down from the strain of the stampede.
“I felt like I used to be about to die,” he stated.
Zaki Heller, spokesman for the Magen David Adom rescue service, stated 150 individuals had been hospitalized, a number of dozen in critical or vital situation. Military Radio, citing nameless medical officers, stated the loss of life toll had risen to 44.
Well being officers warned in opposition to holding occasion
That will match the loss of life toll of a 2010 forest fireplace, which is believed to be the deadliest civilian tragedy within the nation’s historical past.
Heller advised the station “nobody had ever dreamed” one thing like this might occur. “In a single second, we went from a cheerful occasion to an immense tragedy,” he stated.
Images from the scene confirmed rows of wrapped our bodies.
The Israeli army stated it had dispatched medics and search and rescue groups together with helicopters to help with a “mass casualty incident” within the space. It didn’t present particulars on the character of the catastrophe.
It was the primary enormous non secular gathering to be held legally since Israel lifted practically all restrictions associated to the coronavirus pandemic. The nation has seen circumstances plummet since launching one of many world’s most profitable vaccination campaigns late final 12 months.
Well being authorities had nonetheless warned in opposition to holding such a big gathering.
However when the celebrations began, the Public Safety Minister Amir Ohana, police chief Yaakov Shabtai and different high officers visited the occasion and met with police, who had deployed 5,000 additional forces to take care of order.
Ohana, a detailed ally of Netanyahu, thanked police for his or her onerous work and dedication “for safeguarding the well-being and safety for the various individuals” as he wished the nation a cheerful vacation.
Netanyahu is struggling to kind a governing coalition forward of a Tuesday deadline, and the nationwide tragedy is bound to complicate these efforts.