AT LEAST 28 people have died and 50 people injured in a crush at a religious bonfire festival in Israel on Friday, local media reports.
Multiple casualties and fatalities were reported after a metal grandstand platform collapsed and the area was overcrowded in Meron at a celebration of the Jewish festival Lag B’Omer.
At least 28 people have died, local media reports
Israelis gather around a bonfire to celebrate Lag BaOmer in Tel Aviv, IsraelCredit: Rex
Top-rated Channel 12 TV news has reported 15 fatalities in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a “heavy disaster”.
Medics confirmed that dozens of people had been hurt at the event in northern Israel, where tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews were gathered at the tomb of a 2nd-century sage for annual commemorations that include all-night prayer and dance.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said around 20 people had life-threatening injuries.
On Twitter, Netanyahu called it a “heavy disaster” and added: “We are all praying for the wellbeing of the casualties.”
The 10,000-strong gathering had been held in defiance of health officials who had worries that crowding could pose a COVID-19 risk.
Around 5,000 police were deployed to secure the event, with the cops urging pilgrims to avoid incidents during the feast when bonfires are lit.
Police said on Thursday that they had arrested two people for disrupting officers’ efforts to keep order at the site.
This was the first huge religious gathering of its kind to be held legally since Israel lifted nearly all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country has seen cases plummet since launching one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns late last year.
More to follow…
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