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Over 40 crushed to death, scores hurt in Israel mishap

New Delhi, Apr 30 (MNN) At least 44 persons were killed and over 100 others injured at a religious function in northern Israel, multiple media reports said on Friday.

Defence forces said a roof collapse led to the tragedy in Har Meron. The Health Ministry confirmed the death toll at 44.

Many of the injured were in critical condition even as rescuers pressed in ambulances and helicopters to evacuate the victims from a huge gathering, which marked the Jewish holiday of ‘Lag Baomer’ on Mount Meron.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident “a terrible disaster”.

Times of Israel quoted medics as saying that at least 44 people were crushed to death and more than 100 people hurt” in the stampede that occurred after midnight on Thursday.

The Lag B’Omer holiday — the largest annual public event in Israel — is celebrated to commemorate the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century Mishnaic sage whose book ‘The Zohar’ is the foundation of Jewish mysticism.

Magen David Adom, which is Israel’s emergency medical service said 18 persons were injured severely. “Tragedy in Meron: MDA is fighting for the lives of dozens wounded, and will not give up until the last victim is evacuated. 38 are in critical condition and still in the field. Six in critical condition who were evacuated, 8 injured severely 2 moderately and 39 lightly,” it tweeted.

MDA Director-General Eli Bin told Ynet news website that at least 38 persons were killed, and that the injured were getting evacuated to various hospitals.

Initial reports said that a stand had collapsed at one of the concerts where 1,00,000 people were present, the news report said. However, Magen David Adom rescue service said the tragedy was caused by crush and overcrowding.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defence Forces, which sent its elite 669 rescue team to the spot, said a roof had collapsed.

In an earlier tweet, Magen David Adom had said that “the injuries were a result of a stampede and not a collapse. MDA EMTs and Paramedics are providing medical treatment to approximately 50 injured, of which 20 are in critical condition.”

“Six helicopters have been dispatched who have worked alongside MDA ambulances to evacuate victims to both Ziv Hospital in Safed and Galil Medical Center in Nahariya,” it added.

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