Thursday, May 6




Dozens Crushed To Death, Scores Injured In Stampede At Israeli Religious Festival

Ultra-Orthodox Jews look at the scene where dozens of people were killed and some 150 injured in a stampede during the Lag BaOmer festival at Mount Meron in northern Israel on Friday.
Sebastian Scheiner/AP

JERUSALEM — At least 45 people were killed and some 150 more injured in a crush at a religious festival of ultra-Orthodox Jews in northern Israel, where tens of thousands of faithful had convened in one of the country’s largest events since the pandemic began.

The chaos at Mount Meron began early Friday at the festival of Lag BaOmer, which features bonfires and dancing around the Galilee tomb of a 2nd century rabbi.

According to witnesses, at around 1 a.m. local time, in an area of the complex where the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community of Toldos Aharon was holding its celebration, participants were pushing through a slippery staircase. Suddenly, a row of people fell to the floor, piling atop of one another.

Witnesses said people were asphyxiated or trampled in the tightly packed corridor. The stampede occurred in the men’s section of the gender-segregated festival, Reuters reported, quoting medics, who said that casualties included children.

Officials had limited the number of bonfires at the site this year in an attempt to control crowds because of COVID-19 concerns.

“There weren’t a lot of bonfires this year, and I believe that’s why everyone came all at once,” said a young survivor, identified as Avraham, speaking to Israeli Channel 12 television from his hospital bed.

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