Daily US Times: At least 44 people have been killed in a stampede at Lag B’Omer festival in the north-east of Israel.
The national emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) said dozens more had been wounded at the religious festival, at the foot of Mount Meron.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, described it as a “heavy disaster” and said he was praying for the casualties.
Tens of thousands of people reportedly attended in the festival, making it the largest event in Israel since the Covid pandemic began.
Dozens of ambulances attended the stampede scene and emergency services laid out dead bodies under foil covers on the ground. Police asked everyone at the place to evacuate.
Emergency officials said at least thirty-eight people were in critical condition at the site, with six more critically injured but evacuated and scores more wounded less seriously.
A tweet read: “MDA is fighting for the lives of dozens wounded, and will not give up until the last victim is evacuated.”
Early reports suggested a structure at the site collapsed, but Magen David Adom officials later said it was the result of a stampede. Police sources told Haaretz that the stampede started after some attendees slipped on some steps, causing dozens more to fall.
A witness told the newspaper: “It happened in a split second; people just fell, trampling each other. It was a disaster.”
Videos posted on the internet 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.