Dozens crushed to death in Lag B'Omer stampede

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According to a local media report citing witnesses, numerous injured are unconscious, and ambulances and helicopters are evacuating patients from Israel's largest crowd since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Israeli media published an image of a row of bodies covered in plastic bags on the ground.

Police sources said the stampede was caused after some worshippers tripped on stairs, causing others to fall on top of them.

Dozens of people have been killed in a crush at a religious bonfire festival in Israel, medics said, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a "heavy disaster". It also said in a tweet that that 38 were critically inured and still at the location, six were in critical condition at a hospital, 18 were severely injured, two were moderately injured and 39 were lightly injured.

With the launch of an inquiry into the disaster, the regional police chief told reporters: "I, Shimon Lavi ... take upon myself the overall responsibility, for good and for bad, and I am ready for every inspection".

United Hatzalah emergency medical service said that dozens of resuscitations were carried out at the site by the organization's volunteers.

Another attendee, Wice Israel, said he saw people falling to the ground.

"I felt like I was about to die", he said.

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About 50 people were injured, a spokesman for the Magen David Adom emergency services told The National. "In one moment, we went from a happy event to an huge tragedy", he said.

The army said its medical teams and "a number of Israeli Air Force helicopters with medical teams. are assisting in the mass casualty incident in Mount Meron".

Ultra-Orthodox Jews gather at the grave site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at Mount Meron in northern Israel on April 29, 2021 as they celebrate the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer.

The Lag B'Omer festival at the foot of Mount Meron is the largest event held in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began despite concerns about spreading the virus.

The country has seen cases plummet since launching one of the world's most successful vaccination campaigns late previous year. The stampede happened after midnight, and the cause was not immediately clear.

Around 5,000 police were deployed to secure the event, with the police urging pilgrims to avoid incidents during the feast when bonfires are lit.

Ohana, a close ally of Netanyahu, thanked police for their hard work and dedication "for protecting the well-being and security for the many participants" as he wished the country a happy holiday.

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