Deadly crowd crush in Israel: what we know so far


Powered by article titled “Deadly crowd crush in Israel: what we know so far” was written by Helen Sullivan, for on Friday 30th April 2021 17.16 UTC

Dozens of people have died in a crowd crush at an ultra-Orthodox religious festival in northern Israel attended by tens of thousands of people.

Here is what we know so far:

  • At least 45 people have died, and approximately 150 were injured, at the annual Lag B’Omer commemorations in Galilee. By late afternoon on Friday, the health ministry said 32 of the dead had been identified.

  • The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the crush one of the “heaviest disasters” in Israeli history and promised a thorough investigation to ensure it did not happen again. The country will observe a day of mourning on Sunday.

  • Ultra-Orthodox men clambered through gaps in sheets of torn corrugated iron to escape the crush, as police and paramedics tried to reach the wounded.

  • The gathering was held to celebrate Lag B’Omer, a Jewish holiday honouring Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a second-century sage and mystic who was buried at the foot of Mount Meron. Bar Yochai’s tomb is considered one of the holiest sites in Israel.

  • The festival was segregated by gender, and medics said the injuries and deaths were concentrated in the men’s section.

  • Israel has lifted most Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and the festival was held legally. Authorities had authorised 10,000 people to attend the gathering at the tomb, but festival organisers estimated that 100,000 people were at the site by Thursday morning, according to the Times of Israel.

  • The festival was the largest public gathering during the coronavirus pandemic and 5,000 police had been deployed to secure the event.

  • About a decade ago a government watchdog report found fault with the management of the festival premises, and a “systemic failure” in maintenance that could endanger visitors. It was not immediately known what steps were taken to remedy the situation. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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