Many Dead in Stampede at Israel Religious Celebration

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A stampede at a spiritual celebration that drew tens of hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews to a mountain in northern Israel late Thursday left at least 15 folks lifeless and dozens injured, in line with native information experiences.

“A terrible disaster” declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as conflicting experiences trickled in from Mount Meron.

By some estimates, about 100,000 folks had been crammed collectively close to midnight to rejoice the feast of Lag b’Omer, when ultra-Orthodox Jews historically convene at the tomb of a distinguished rabbi from antiquity on Mount Meron. The festivities embrace dancing and bonfires.

According to some early experiences, the stampede was set off by a collapsing grandstand, although others cited a roof collapse. Some rescue employees attributed it to the sheer quantity folks.

A video mentioned to have been taken proper earlier than the stampede confirmed a mass of individuals in ecstatic celebration, shifting nearly as one to the music.

Amid the chaos, as medics tried to navigate the gang to get to the injured, a distinguished Israeli rabbi, Meir Lau, remained on a stage making an attempt to revive calm. Along with different main rabbis, he learn psalms for the wounded.

The annual pilgrimage was held regardless of warnings from Israeli well being officers that it may develop into a Covid-19 superspreader occasion, Reuters reported. .

Last year, the Israeli authorities arrested over 300 folks at the Lag b’Omer celebration after giant crowds gathered in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, ignoring police checkpoints on roads. Some had been reported to have thrown stones and different objects at a law enforcement officials who tried to manage the gang.

The gathering on Thursday in northern Galilee was described as the most important in Israel for the reason that pandemic broke out — and hundreds extra folks had been anticipated to reach at Mount Meron on Friday.

Earlier in the night, earlier than the stampede, the Israeli police mentioned they’d arrested two folks for disrupting officers’ efforts to maintain order at the location. But the gang was so huge, the police mentioned, that they may not make folks comply with coronavirus restrictions.

Once emergency medical employees had been capable of achieve entry, they labored to resuscitate some victims, the newspaper Haaretz reported. Helicopters additionally had been despatched to evacuate the injured.

But some — the numbers diverse — had been past saving.

The Times of Israel put the dying toll at 28 or extra. Images from the catastrophe scene confirmed our bodies on stretchers, coated with blankets.

The police shut down the celebration and ordered the revelers to be evacuated by bus, Reuters reported.

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