Dozens killed in Israel at crowded religious festival
Dozens killed in Israel at crowded religious festival

Dozens killed in Israel at crowded religious festival

At least 44 people have been killed in a deadly crush at a religious festival in the north-east of Israel.

Tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews attended the all-night Lag B’Omer festival held at the foot of Mount Meron.

Emergency officials confirmed the crush occurred at around 01:00 local time yesterday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since travelled to the scene and said Sunday would be a day of national mourning.

The event was the largest in Israel since the pandemic has started. The country has lifted many of its restrictions due to high vaccination and low infection rates.

Police sources told Haaretz newspaper that it started after some attendees slipped on steps, which caused dozens more to fall.

As well as 44 dead, there are more than 150 injured including over 30 in a critical condition.

“It happened in a split second; people just fell, trampling each other. It was a disaster,” one witness told the Haaretz newspaper.

A number of videos have been posted to social media showing thousands of people trying to escape the crowds through a narrow passageway.

“No-one imagined that this could happen here,” one of the pilgrims told Channel 12 TV. “Rejoicing became mourning, a great light became a deep darkness.”

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