Dozens killed in crush at Israel religious festival

Dozens of people have been killed in a stampede at a religious festival in the north-east of Israel.

Israel’s national emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) confirmed the deaths without giving exact numbers, and said dozens more had been wounded.

Newspaper Haaretz reports at least 38 people have been killed. Emergency services are evacuating the injured.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a “heavy disaster”, and said he was praying for the casualties.

The Lag B’Omer festival at the foot of Mount Meron is the largest event held in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began, with tens of thousands reportedly attending – despite concerns about spreading the virus.

Dozens of ambulances are at the scene and emergency services have laid out bodies under foil covers on the ground. Police have asked everyone at the site to evacuate.

Emergency officials said 38 people were in critical condition at the site, with six more critically injured by evacuated. Dozens more were wounded less seriously.

“MDA is fighting for the lives of dozens wounded, and will not give up until the last victim is evacuated,” a tweet read.

Early reports suggested a structure at the site collapsed, but MDA officials later said it was the result of a stampede. Police sources told Haaretz that it started after some attendees slipped on some steps, causing dozens more to fall. (Courtesy BBC)

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