At least 44 people have been killed and about 150 others injured in a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel attended by tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews, according to medical officials said.
The stampede occurred during the celebrations of Lag BaOmer at Mount Meron, the first mass religious gathering to be held legally since Israel lifted nearly all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lag BaOmer draws tens of thousands of people, most of them ultra-Orthodox Jews, each year to honour Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century sage and mystic who is buried there. Large crowds traditionally light bonfires, pray and dance as part of the celebrations.
This year, the media estimated the crowd at about 100,000 people.
It was one of the country’s deadliest civilian disasters.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the stampede a “great tragedy” and said everyone was praying for the victims.