In a major tragedy in Israel, almost 40 people were killed and over 100 injured in a stampede at a Jewish religious gathering of more than ten thousand people on Friday.
People had gathered to celebrate the annual religious holiday Lag B’Omer which was marked with bonfires, prayers, and dancing, at Mount Meron.
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.
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The incident in northern Israel left 40 dead and 103 injured according to the Jerusalem Post which quoted quoting Israel’s national emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) as saying, as per PTI report.
The stampede was caused after some revelers tripped on steps leading to others fall over, as per the police sources.
Of the 103 injured, 44 people are in critical condition, with dozens of ambulances and six helicopters rushing to the spot to evacuate the injured. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a “heavy disaster”.
The Lag B’Omer festival organized at the foot of Mount Meron is the largest event held in Israel since the coronavirus pandemic began despite concerns about spiraling of the cases across the world.
A field hospital was set up at the scene. Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers worked to evacuate the injured and clear the crowds from the scene.
Phone service at the scene crashed as thousands attempted to contact family members and emergency services. Hundreds of worshipers refused to leave the site and clashed with police in an attempt to enter the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai after the incident, the report said.
Shortly after the incident, police closed to traffic into the area and began evacuating visitors from the site.
The IDF said that it had sent soldiers from the rescue brigade and Israel Air Force helicopters to help at the scene.
Since the site was so densely populated, search and rescue authorities say they struggled to evacuate trapped people.
(With Agency Inputs)