Israel: At least 44 killed after stampede at religious Lag B’omer festival attended by tens of thousands

At least 44 people have been killed in a stampede at a Jewish religious gathering in northern Israel, local authorities said.

The national emergency service, Magen David Adom (MDA), said dozens more had been wounded at the festival of Lag B’omer, at the foot of Mount Meron.

Festival organisers estimated that 100,000 people attended the event on Thursday. But after midnight, a grandstand collapsed, triggering scenes of panic.

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Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described the incident as a “heavy disaster”, adding: “We are all praying for the wellbeing of the casualties.”

Emergency officials said 38 people were in critical condition at the site, with scores more wounded less seriously.

“MDA is fighting for the lives of dozens wounded, and will not give up until the last victim is evacuated,” a tweet read.

Israel has lifted most coronavirus restrictions and the festival was held legally.

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men stand next to covered bodies after dozens of people were killed and others injured after a grandstand collapsed in Meron, Israel, where tens of thousands of people were gathered to celebrate the festival of Lag Ba'omer at the site in northern Israel. Photo by David COHEN / JINI PIX / AFP) / Israel OUT (Photo by DAVID COHEN/JINI PIX/AFP via Getty Images)

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Rescue teams in the aftermath of a stampede at the scene of a religious gathering in Meron in northern Israel near the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century Talmudic sage, where mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews flock to mark the Lag BaOmer holiday. Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
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