Israeli safety officers and rescuers carry a physique of a sufferer who died throughout a Lag Ba’Omer celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, Friday, April 30, 2021.
MOUNT MERON: Dozens of individuals have been killed in a stampede at a spiritual bonfire pageant in Israel on Friday, medics stated, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a “heavy catastrophe”.
Tens of 1000’s of ultra-Orthodox Jews had thronged to the Galilee tomb of 2nd-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai for annual Lag B’Omer commemorations that embrace all-night prayer, mystical songs and dance.
The ecstatic crowds packed the Mount Meron slope in defiance of Covid-19 warnings by well being officers. Witnesses stated folks have been asphyxiated or trampled in a passageway, some going unnoticed till the PA system sounded an enchantment to disperse.
“We thought perhaps there was a (bomb) alert over a suspicious package deal. Nobody imagined that this might occur right here. Rejoicing turned mourning, an excellent gentle turned a deep darkness,” a pilgrim who gave his title as Yitzhak informed Channel 12 TV.
“Rabbi Shimon used to say that he might absolve the world … If he did not handle to cancel this edict on the very day of his exaltation, then we have to do actual soul-searching.”
The Magen David Adom ambulance service stated 103 folks had been injured, together with dozens fatally. Channel 12 put the variety of useless at 40. These included kids, witnesses stated.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu known as it a “heavy catastrophe”, including on Twitter: “We’re all praying for the wellbeing of the casualties.”
The Lag B’Omer occasion at Mount Meron was considered one of many largest gatherings of individuals – actually in Israel and maybe farther afield – for the reason that outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic greater than a yr in the past.
As rescue staff tried to extricate the casualties, police shut down the location and ordered revellers out. The Transportation Ministry halted roadworks within the space to allow ambulances and pilgrims’ buses to maneuver unhindered. Navy helicopters ferried some casualties to hospitals.
The Mount Meron tomb is taken into account to be one of many holiest websites within the Jewish world and it’s an annual pilgrimage web site.
Movies posted on social media confirmed chaotic scenes as Extremely-Orthodox males clambered by way of gaps in sheets of torn corrugated iron to flee the crush. Our bodies lay on stretchers in a hall, coated in foil blankets.
Non-public bonfires at Mount Meron have been banned final yr because of coronavirus restrictions, however lockdown measures have been eased this yr amid Israel’s fast Covid-19 vaccination programme that has seen greater than 50% of the inhabitants absolutely vaccinated.