A stampede at a spiritual celebration that drew tens of 1000’s of ultra-Orthodox Jews to a mountain in northern Israel late Thursday left at least 15 individuals lifeless and dozens injured, in line with native information stories.
“A terrible disaster” declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as conflicting stories trickled in from Mount Meron.
By some estimates, about 100,000 individuals had been crammed collectively close to midnight to have fun 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 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 nearly as one to the music.
Amid the chaos, as medics tried to navigate the group 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 turn into a Covid-19 superspreader occasion, Reuters reported. .
Last 12 months, the Israeli authorities arrested over 300 individuals 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 cops who tried to regulate 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 1000’s extra individuals 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 individuals for disrupting officers’ efforts to maintain order at the location. But the group was so huge, the police mentioned, that they might not make individuals observe coronavirus restrictions.
Once emergency medical staff had been in a position to acquire entry, they labored to resuscitate some victims, the newspaper Haaretz reported. Helicopters additionally had been despatched to evacuate the injured.
But some — the numbers different — had been past saving.
The Times of Israel put the loss of life toll at 28 or extra. Images from the catastrophe scene confirmed our bodies on stretchers, lined with blankets.
The police shut down the celebration and ordered the revelers to be evacuated by bus, Reuters reported.