Dozens reported dead in stampede at Israeli festival

30 Avril, 2021, 07:03 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • Bodies lie on the ground in Meron after a stampede at a religious festival

Israeli media have published an image of a row of bodies covered in plastic bags on the ground.

Newspaper Haaretz reports at least 38 people have been killed.

Magen Daviv Adom, Israel's national emergency medical services, said there were "dozens" killed, but did not offer specific numbers.

Medics and rescue workers attend to the Lag B'Omer event in Mount Meron, northern Israel, where fatalities were reported among the thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered at the tomb of a 2nd-century sage for annual commemorations that include all-night prayer and dance, at Mount Meron, Israel April 30, 2021.

"This was a very hard site-sites that we have not seen here in Israel since the worst days of the terrorist wave back during the early 2000s", he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a "heavy disaster", and said he was praying for the casualties.

The incident happened after midnight and the cause of the stampede was not immediately clear. But officials later said it appeared that the casualties had been asphyxiated or trampled in the stampede.

Videos posted on social media show thousands of people packed into the event and then struggling to flee the chaos.

Thousands of Jewish pilgrims in Israel's biggest Covid-era gathering

Photos from the scene showed rows of wrapped bodies.

Israel's military was brought in to support the rescue effort, police said, while authorities tried to evacuate the area. It did not provide details on the nature of the disaster.

Last year's celebration was called off, but Israel's successful vaccination programme - one of the fastest in the world - has allowed it to lift many restrictions in recent months.

"In one of the complexes on the mountain, a number of the revellers were injured due to overcrowding", police said.

The gathering had been held in defiance of health officials who had worries that crowding could pose a Covid-19 risk.

It was the first huge religious gathering of its kind to be held legally since Israel lifted almost all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohana, a close ally of Netanyahu, thanked police for their hard work and dedication "for protecting the well-being and security for the many participants" as he wished the country a happy holiday.

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