At least 38 killed in stampede at religious bonfire festival in Israel

At least 38 people have been killed during a ‘disastrous’ crush at a religious bonfire festival in Israel on Friday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the tragedy as a “heavy disaster”.

Medics confirmed that dozens of people had been hurt at the Lag B’Omer event in northern Mount Meron, where tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews were gathered.

They were there at the tomb of a 2nd-century sage for annual commemorations that include all-night prayer and dance.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said around 20 people had life-threatening injuries after the stampede.

On Twitter, Netanyahu called it a “heavy disaster” and added: “We are all praying for the wellbeing of the casualties.”

Revellers were there to celebrate Lag Ba’Omer earlier this evening

According to Haaretz dozens of people have been injured, and six are in a critical condition, 18 in serious condition, two in moderate condition and 39 sustaining light injuries.

“Sadly there are fatalities,” the director of Hatzala’s medical division Avi Marcus was reported to have said.

Reportedly, the stampede was caused after revellers slipped on steps, police said, causing dozens more people to fall over.

A man at the scene
One witness described the scene as a disaster

One un-named witness was reported to have said: “It happened in a split second; people just fell, trampling each other. It was a disaster.”

Officers are continuing to try to evacuate the tens of thousands of revellers who are at Mount Meron.

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered at the grave site
Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews had gathered at the grave site

Bodies in sheets at the site
At least 38 people are believed to have been killed

Mail Online reports that 10,000 people were authorised to gather at the site but organisers said more than 650 busses had been chartered from all over the country and that 30,000 pilgrims had been brought to Meron.

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