AT LEAST 38 KILLED IN STAMPEDE AT ISRAELI RELIGIOUS EVENT
At least 38 people were killed in a stampede at overcrowded festivities in northern Israel, according to Israeli ambulance service Magen David Adom estimates, Haaretz reported at dawn.
Dozens were injured, with six in critical condition, 18 in serious condition, two in moderate condition, and 39 sustaining light injuries. Since the site was full of people, search and rescue authorities say they struggled to evacuate trapped people.
The stampede was caused after some revelers slipped on steps, causing dozens more people to fall over, according to police sources.
Tens of thousands of Hassidic Jews participated on Thursday, April 29, 2021, in the annual Lag Ba'omer festivities at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, making it the largest event held in Israel since the coronavirus pandemic broke out last year.
Attendance at the event, located at the foot of Mount Meron and set to continue until midday Friday, was higher than it was last year when festivities were held under restrictions that were meant to halt the spread of the virus. It was still lower than was the norm before the pandemic, however.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that rescue authorities bolster their presence at the scene, tweeting that "we are praying for the recovery of the injured." President Reuven Rivlin also offered his condolences, as well as Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who tweeted he is closely following developments on this "sad and difficult night."