Israel Stampede: At least 38 Killed During Lag B'Omer Festival Celebrations

WORLD Team Latestly|

A massive stampede at a densely packed Jewish pilgrimage site killed at least 38 people in northern Israel on Friday, with rescue workers facing chaotic crowds while trying to evacuate the injured. The disaster occurred in Meron at the site of the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century Talmudic sage, where mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews flock to mark the Lag B'Omer holiday. Closed last year due to coronavirus restrictions, this year's pilgrimage was expected to be a celebratory event in a nation that has largely re-opened thanks to a successful vaccination effort. The pilgrimage was largest public gathering since the pandemic began. Authorities had authorised 10,000 people to gather at the site of the tomb but organisers said more than 650 buses had been chartered from across the country, bringing 30,000 pilgrims to Meron, reported AFP. A spokesman for the Magen David Adom, Israel's rescue service, told AFP "there were 38 dead at the scene but there were more at the hospital.” Israel has fully vaccinated more than half of its 9.3 million population against the coronavirus, but restrictions on massive public gatherings remain in place to stem the spread of the virus.

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