Israel, a pilgrimage to Mount Meron turns into a tragedy
In Israel, the great celebrations for the Lag B’Omer feast, at Mount Meron, have turned into tragedy. 44 people died crushed by the crowd and over 150 faithfuls were injured. Among the victims, there are also several children.
The cause of the disaster has not yet been ascertained: at first, it was thought of the collapse of a flight of steps, but according to some local media the tragedy was caused, in part, by an immense crowd crammed and feared as they tried to exit the rally through a long, narrow corridor on a slippery metal platform.
On the occasion of the Lag B’Omer feast, 50,000 faithfuls attended the concert that ended in tragedy, and more than 500,000, as every year, gathered in the Upper Galilee region to pray at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a sage and mystical character, and to remember the Jewish rebellion of 132 AD against the Roman legions.
According to police sources quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the crash occurred after some people slipped on the steps of a grandstand, thus causing others to fall. “It all happened in a fraction of seconds; people fell, trampling each other. It was a disaster,” said a witness.
The provisional toll is getting worse by the hour: over 44 dead, there are also children, 150 people injured in the crash on Mount Meron including 6 in critical conditions, 18 in serious conditions, eight in moderate conditions, and 80 lightly injured, and over 250 ambulances and six helicopters arrived at the scene to evacuate the wounded, writes the Jerusalem Post.
Field hospital set up on site. Initially, it was reported that a grandstand collapsed, but Magen David Adom (the equivalent of the Italian Red Cross) spoke exclusively of crowds during the celebrations of the Jewish holiday Lag B’Omer, on the Mount Meron, in Northern Israel.
The anniversary, which celebrates the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a Jewish sage who lived in the second century AD, is characterized by the lighting of bonfires that inevitably plead to burns and fainting among those present. Last year the appointment was canceled due to Covid-19. Premier Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident “a terrible disaster”.
According to the estimates released by the organizers, reported by the Times of Israel, there were about 100,000 people on the spot at the time of the tragedy. The ultra-Orthodox gathering had been authorized by the authorities for about 10 thousand people, thanks to the vaccination campaign that has already affected half of the population, providing for the deployment of five thousand agents to ensure safety.