At least 44 killed, 150+ injured in STAMPEDE at crowded bonfire festival in Israel
Over 150 people have been injured, some critically, and at least 44 have died in a stampede at the crowded Lag B’Omer bonfire festival in northern Israel, local media reported, citing emergency services.
Emergency response teams said six of the injured are in critical condition and 18 are in serious condition after the incident at Mount Meron.
“It happened in a split second; people just fell, trampling each other. It was a disaster,” one witness told Haaretz
Police sources cited by the newspaper said the stampede was triggered after attendees slipped on a staircase, causing dozens of others to fall.
נורא לראות את הצפיפות שהיתה במעבר הצר, ואת הדוחק העצום שהוביל בסוף לאסון הקשה והמחריד. pic.twitter.com/1RE7FggFXt— ישראל כהן (@Israelcohen911) April 29, 2021
Tens of thousands of Hassidic Jews had gathered at Mount Meron for the annual festivities at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the largest event in Israel since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. On Thursday night, organizers estimated some 100,000 people were in attendance, expecting another 100,000 to arrive by Friday morning.
Footage from the festival has circulated online, showing a massive crowd of revelers dancing to live music prior to the stampede.
לכבוד התנא: עשרות אלפים בהדלקה המרכזית של תולדות אהרן שמרעידה את הההר מצד לצד pic.twitter.com/b2pMQsXv1z— משה ויסברג (@moshe_nayes) April 29, 2021
Israeli health officials had urged residents not to travel to Mount Meron, citing fears the gathering could contribute to the spread of Covid-19. Some 5,000 police officers were deployed to monitor the event.
סרטון הזוי, דקות ספורות לפני האסון הקשה נראים האנשים מצטופפים במדרגות ונתקלים במחסום אנושי שעוצר אותם. מה גרם לדוחק להתפרץ בבת אחת ולציבור להימחץ? pic.twitter.com/4VBzW5jfNE— ישראל כהן (@Israelcohen911) April 29, 2021
The crowding has reportedly created obstacles for rescue crews, which used helicopters to evacuate the wounded. The Israeli Defense Forces also said it deployed a unit and multiple aircraft to the scene.
6 helicopters have been dispatched who have worked alongside MDA ambulances to evacuate victims to both Ziv Hospital in Safed and Galil Medical Center in Nahariya— Magen David Adom (@Mdais) April 29, 2021
While the IDF and a number of early reports suggested the stampede was caused after a roof or stage collapsed, Israel’s emergency service later clarified that the deaths and injuries were the result of overcrowding alone.
Breaking: At least 28 dead, 100+ injured, after a platform collapsed at a festival in Meron, Israel. pic.twitter.com/fTmH4pPhTd— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) April 29, 2021
The emergency agency released footage from the scene, showing the rescue effort in progress, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident a “terrible disaster.”
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