The number of victims of the collapse of a facility and a bridge during a Jewish festival on Mount Geranium in the Galilee has risen to more than 44 dead, and more than 100 wounded.
Medics said that at least 44 people were crushed, in a crowd during a religious ceremony, on Friday.
The stampede occurred when tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox gathered at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Joshai for the annual Lac Boomer religious celebration, which includes all-night prayer, songs and dancing.
Witnesses said that people were suffocated or crushed underfoot in a narrow, crowded corridor.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said helicopters had taken the wounded to hospitals in northern Israel. The Israeli army said that search and rescue forces and medical teams immediately poured into the scene.
Ambulance officials described the incident as a stampede and said 103 people were injured, in what was described as a stampede.
“We were standing and waiting for our friends, and we were getting into the dance and suddenly we saw paramedics from Magen David Edom running,” Shlomo Katz told Reuters.
Then he saw the ambulances coming out “one by one” and realized something had happened. “We stepped aside as the ambulances were coming out and entering, and we waited until we were able to get out slowly,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the incident on Twitter as a “great disaster”.
The gathering was organized in defiance of health officials, who expressed concern that overcrowding could pose a risk of catching COVID-19.
In Israel, 38 people were crushed to death and more than 65 injured at the largest religious gathering More than 100,000 Jews gathered on Mount Meron in northern Galilee to celebrate Lag B’Omer, The Times of Israel reported. pic.twitter.com/xf0HORw97u
– IZYA KPSS (@ srqa12) April 30, 2021