Israel stampede: Dozens killed in crush at religious festival

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Bodies lie on the ground in Meron after a stampede at a religious festival

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Dozens of people have been killed in a stampede at a religious festival in the north-east of Israel.

Israel’s national emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) confirmed the deaths without giving exact numbers, and said dozens more had been wounded.

Newspaper Haaretz reports at least 38 people have been killed. Emergency services are evacuating the injured.

Tens of thousands of Jews made a pilgrimage to Meron on Thursday for Lag B’Omer, an annual religious holiday.

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According to the Times of Israel, organisers estimated that 100,000 people had arrived on Thursday night, with more set to arrive on Friday.

It is the largest event held in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Last year’s celebration was called off, but Israel’s successful vaccination programme – one of the fastest in the world – has allowed it to lift many restrictions in recent months.

Officials said they had tried to control the crowds in Meron, but they later said they were not able to enforce coronavirus restrictions at the site.

A map showing Meron in Israel

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