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 the least 15 individuals lifeless and dozens injured, in accordance with native information stories.
“A horrible catastrophe” declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as conflicting stories trickled in from Mount Meron.
By some estimates, about 100,000 individuals have been crammed collectively close to midnight to have fun the feast of Lag b’Omer, when ultra-Orthodox Jews historically convene on the tomb of a outstanding rabbi from antiquity on Mount Meron. The festivities embrace dancing and bonfires.
In accordance with some early stories, the stampede was set off by a collapsing grandstand, although others cited a roof collapse. Some rescue staff attributed it to the sheer quantity individuals.
A video mentioned to have been taken proper earlier than the stampede confirmed a mass of individuals in ecstatic celebration, shifting virtually as one to the music.
Amid the chaos, as medics tried to navigate the group to get to the injured, a outstanding Israeli rabbi, Meir Lau, remained on a stage making an attempt to revive calm. Together 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 might turn out to be a Covid-19 superspreader occasion, Reuters reported. .
Final yr, the Israeli authorities arrested over 300 individuals on the Lag b’Omer celebration after massive crowds gathered in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, ignoring police checkpoints on roads. Some have been reported to have thrown stones and different objects at a cops who tried to manage the group.
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 individuals had been anticipated to reach at Mount Meron on Friday.
Earlier within the night, earlier than the stampede, the Israeli police mentioned that they had arrested two individuals for disrupting officers’ efforts to maintain order on the web site. However the crowd was so huge, the police mentioned, that they might not make individuals comply with coronavirus restrictions.
As soon as emergency medical staff have been in a position to acquire entry, they labored to resuscitate some victims, the newspaper Haaretz reported. Helicopters additionally have been despatched to evacuate the injured.
However some — the numbers different — have been past saving.
The Instances of Israel put the dying toll at 28 or extra. Pictures 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.