Per The New York Times, close to 100,000 people had gathered together at the festival at Mount Meron in northern Israel. This was despite some warnings from health officials about the possibility of COVID-19 transmission at the event.
- The religious event includes thousands of Orthodox Jews, who “make a pilgrimage to Meron each year for Lag B’Omer, a religious holiday marked with all-night bonfires, prayer and dancing,” according to BBC News.
How the stampede happened
Per The New York Times, video footage “showed a mass of people in ecstatic celebration, moving in unison to the music.” There were reports of a grandstand collapsing on people, which led to deaths and injuries.
- But other reports suggested “the crush had occurred after celebrants slipped on stone steps leading into a narrow passageway with a metal-floored slope,” according to The New York Times.
- This led to a “human avalanche,” according to Ynet.
According to Fox News, there are still some missing children from the event who have yet to contact their parents.
Reaction to Israel stampede
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the incident was “a terrible disaster.”
The Israel Foreign Ministry said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to thank the many officials and individuals around the world who sent their condolences following the disaster at the Lag Ba’Omer festivities on #MountMeron.”
Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said on Twitter: “Our hearts go out to the people of Israel tonight following the terrible tragedy at Mount Meron. We offer our condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in this disaster, and wish a full and swift recovery to those injured.”
Emanuele Giaufret, the European Union’s ambassador, said: “We are shocked and very saddened by the terrible news of the wounded and killed at the Lag B’Omer celebration on Mount Meron. Our condolences to the families of the victims and best wishes for a speedy recovery to all the injured.”