Over 28 crushed to death in Israel at religious festival

No fewer than 28 people have been crushed to death in Israel, as over 100,000 gathered at Mount Meron to celebrate the Lag B’Omer holiday.

Dozens were also injured in the stampede that occurred at the event, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “a terrible disaster.”

The Times of Israel reported on Friday that at least 20 out of the injured were in critical condition.

The rescue service said six helicopters and dozens of ambulances were evacuating the wounded to the Ziv hospital in Safed and the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.

The specific cause of the disaster was not immediately clear, according to the newspaper.

Initial reports said a stand had collapsed at one of the concerts where 100,000 people were taking part in the events.

However, the Magen David Adom rescue service said the tragedy was caused by a crush and overcrowding.

The crowd of ultra-Orthodox Jews had gathered at the tomb of the 2nd-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai for annual commemorations that include all-night prayer and dance.

It is thought to be one of the largest gatherings of people certainly in Israel and perhaps farther afield since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago.

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