At least 44 people have died after a stand collapsed during the celebration of the Lag B’Omer holiday at Mount Meron located near the city of Safed in north Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported on Friday, citing medical services, APA reports quoting TASS.
According to the newspaper, more than 100 people were injured, six of them are in critical condition.
Times of Israel earlier reported 38 fatalities and more than 60 injured. According to the newspaper, some people could have been crushed to death in a stampede that ensued after the stand collapsed. By Thursday evening, organizers counted more than 100,000 participants at the event.
Dozens of people were killed in a stampede at a religious bonfire festival in Israel on Friday, medics said, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a "heavy disaster", APA reports quoting Reuters.
Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews had thronged to the Galilee tomb of 2nd-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai for annual Lag B'Omer commemorations that include all-night prayer, mystical songs and dance.
The ecstatic crowds packed the Mount Meron slope in defiance of COVID-19 warnings by health officials. Witnesses said people were asphyxiated or trampled in a passageway, some going unnoticed until the PA system sounded an appeal to disperse.
"We thought maybe there was a (bomb) alert over a suspicious package. No one imagined that this could happen here. Rejoicing became mourning, a great light became a deep darkness," a pilgrim who gave his name as Yitzhak told Channel 12 TV.