44 victims crushed to death, 150 others injured after stampede at religious bonfire festival

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A tragic scene played out at a religious bonfire festival in Israel when no fewer than 44 victims were crushed to death and over 150 others were injured in a stampede after midnight Thursday, April 29.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the incident which happened at a mass gathering to celebrate the Lag B’Omer holiday at Mount Meron, Israel, as “a terrible disaster.”

The Magen David Adom rescue service said 38 people had been killed at the scene. It said its paramedics treated dozens of people, including 18 in a serious condition, 2 who were moderately hurt and 80 lightly injured. All the wounded were evacuated to hospitals.

The wounded were taken to the Ziv hospital in Safed, the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Rambam hospital in Haifa, Poriya hospital in Tiberias, and Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem.

MDA spokesman Zaki Heller told the Ynet news site that the deaths were caused by severe overcrowding.

“The rescue teams were called to one of the concerts near Bar Yochai’s tomb, where there was a terrible crush near a building. There were dozens trapped on a nearby stand and it took time to evacuate them,” Heller said.

“There are fatalities, it is a very terrible tragedy,” he said, adding that it was a very complicated rescue effort that was still ongoing throughout the night.

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