May 2 declared ‘day of national mourning’ in Israel after 45 die in stampede at Jewish religious festival
The deadly stampede occurred when worshippers gathered to pray and dance in celebration of Lag B’Omer, a Jewish religious bonfire festival, at Mount Meron in Israel’s Upper Galilee region. Around 90,000 people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, were present at Meron, according to the Jerusalem Post. The death toll currently stands at 45, with over a hundred injured.
The prime minister visited the site of the tragedy later on Friday. “I ask on Sunday to announce a day of national mourning. We will all join in the grief of the families and in prayer for the wounded,” he told reporters.
Netanyahu urged people not to spread rumors on social media, because “many” of the victims have not yet been identified. He thanked first responders for preventing “a much larger disaster,” and promised to launch a detailed investigation.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin lit 45 memorial candles at his residence, honoring each victim.
נשיא המדינה הדליק 45 נרות נשמה מחוץ לבית הנשיא לזכר הרוגי האסון בהר מירון pic.twitter.com/aCFa73wt5t— מעריב אונליין (@MaarivOnline) April 30, 2021
The stampede was described by local media as one of Israel’s worst peacetime tragedies.
Blood donation sites were opened across the country. Authorities set up a mental health hotline, and a separate number for those looking for lost loved ones.
It was not immediately clear what had prompted the stampede, though it appears that the narrow access paths were crammed with people, which had led to the loss of life.
Thousands of revellers were seen chaotically attempting to flee, as at least 44 people died in a stampede at a religious festival near #MountMeron, in northern #Israel, in the early hours of Friday morning. pic.twitter.com/YY46IKBllX— Ruptly (@Ruptly) April 30, 2021
Videos from the scene show scores of people leaving the venue built around the tomb of ancient Judea’s Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
Emergency services were deployed in #MountMeron, in Northern #Israel, after at least 44 worshippers were killed and 150 injured in a stampede during Lag B'Omer Jewish festivity on Friday morning. pic.twitter.com/vz0kJV0OR5— Ruptly (@Ruptly) April 30, 2021
Haaretz newspaper cited reports by the State Controller’s Office from 2008 and 2011, which warned that the site was not properly equipped for large gatherings.
One report said that the building additions and changes made to the site had been done without the approval of local planning and building committees. The watchdog noted that “the access roads and paths are narrow and not appropriate to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the site.”Also on rt.com At least 44 killed, 150+ injured in STAMPEDE at crowded bonfire festival in Israel
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