Israel: At least 40 Killed In Stampede At Jewish Pilgrimage Site, Netanyahu Declares National Mourning
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Others/World, 1 May 2021 4:49 AM GMT
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The site was closed last year due to COVID-19 restrictions but was opened up this year as curbs were eased after the country conducted a successful mass vaccination program.
At least 40 people were killed and more than a hundred were injured in a stampede that broke out overnight at a religious festival in Israel on Friday, April 30.
At Mount Meron, tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews had gathered to celebrate Lag B'Omer, an annual religious holiday, to pay their respects to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century sage and mystic, who is believed to have died on this day. The town is home to the Rabbi's tomb which is regarded as one of the holiest sites in the Jewish world and the celebrations usually include all-night bonfires, prayers, and dancing.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site and said he was praying for those who were injured in the "heavy disaster". He announced that Sunday would be a day of national mourning, as reported by the BBC.
According to reports, the site was closed last year due to coronavirus restrictions but was opened up this year as curbs were eased after the country conducted a successful mass vaccination program. The Israeli government had, however, warned the pilgrims against attending the gathering.
Primary investigations conducted by the police officials state that the incident occurred after some of the attendees slipped on the stairs, creating a "human avalanche" that caused a dozen others to fall.
A number of ambulances lined the street as emergency service workers evacuated those injured because of chaotic crowds. Helicopters were also used to evacuate and airlift the injured to the nearby hospitals while some were taken to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Reports said that the crowd at the site was at least three times what was authorised.
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