At least 45 people were killed in a stampede during the religious holiday season in Israel.
According to reports, some victims were suffocated or trampled, but they were not noticed until the public address system issued a call to disperse them.
Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews squeezed into the Galilee tomb of the 2nd century saint Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Lag B’Omer commemorations are held every year, including all-night prayers, mysterious songs and dances.
Witnesses said many of the dead were caught in a tightly packed passageway around 3 meters (yards) wide after crowds packed the slopes of Mount Meron in northern Israel in defiance of warnings to maintain social distancing against COVID-19.
Medics said there had been a stampede in the men’s section of the gender-segregated festival. Casualties included children.
Many of the dead had yet to be identified and police asked family members to provide pictures and personal information of those who attended the festival and were still missing to help with the process.
Videos posted on social media showed ultra-orthodox men desperately crawling through the cracks in the torn corrugated iron sheet to escape infatuation. The corpse was lying on a stretcher in the corridor, covered by an aluminum foil blanket.