Tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered at the foot of Mount Meron near the Lebanese border on Friday night, according to Israeli media, in the largest public event since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic in the country. There are footage on social networks of thousands of people dancing and jumping in the stands, as well as videos of the crowd and the chaos that followed the crash.
The media originally reported about the collapse of a portion of the platform. Authorities later announced that the victims only claimed it through a subsequent crush as people suffocated or were trampled upon. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, at least 44 people were killed in the disaster. Rescue services reported 103 injuries, dozens of whom died.
Social media workers said at least 38 people were still at the scene in critical condition after the accident. Medics said in a tweet, “We are fighting for the lives of dozens of wounded, and we will not surrender until the last victim is evacuated.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the event as a “great disaster” and said he would pray for all the victims and the injured. President Reuven Rivlin said on Twitter that he was following the news of the disaster and praying for the healing of the wounded. Bahadri Haredim, a correspondent for the Orthodox Jewish Network, used similar words. “More than a thousand people together tried to leave a very small place in a very narrow way and in the process collapsed each other,” Quotes BBC Yankyu Farbera.
According to local media, the authorities had already encountered problems in applying anti-epidemic measures during Thursday. According to the BBC, the crowd greatly exceeded the expected turnout. Police said later that they had arrested two people prior to the incident for violating instructions from law enforcement officers.
Tragedy in Meron: MDA is fighting for the lives of dozens of wounded and will not surrender until the last victim is evacuated.
38 of them are in critical condition and are still on the field
6 in critical condition evacuated
18 seriously injured
39 lightly pic.twitter.com/xUWStFYqQh
Magen David Adom (Mdais) April 30, 2021
“It happened in a split second, people suddenly fell and stepped on each other. It was a disaster.” Quotes A witness to the Haaretz Daily. According to another Hajj, many people initially thought a bomb attack was being warned due to the loud calls to disperse the crowd.
Another witness on Channel 12 reported, “Nobody ever thought that this could happen. Joy turned into sadness, and the bright light turned into complete darkness,” according to the BBC.
In addition to the rescuers, the Israeli army intervened immediately, with the help of helicopters. The wounded were taken to the nearest hospitals, and police closed access roads and evacuated the pilgrimage site. However, according to The Times of Israel, hundreds of believers refused to leave and wanted to pray. Some clashed with the police. According to the security forces, there are problems with the phone signal in the place and people cannot contact their loved ones, the DPA writes.
The pulpit collapsed during the lag ba-omer ceremonies, as the faithful set fire to the fathers and made pilgrimages to the tomb of the mystic and Rabbi Simon Bar Joshai, who lived in the second century. The place is considered one of the holiest places in Israel. The Hajj is usually attended by thousands of people who pray, dance and sing on the spot.
According to the diary The Times of Israel Organizers estimate that at least 100,000 people attended the celebrations on Thursday night, and more were due on Friday. Last year’s celebrations were accompanied by strict measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the successful Israeli vaccination campaign, which is one of the fastest in the world, but allowed this holiday to be held without major restrictions.
“Reader. Infuriatingly humble travel enthusiast. Extreme food scholar. Writer. Communicator.”