Israeli investigators are examining what caused a lightning strike that killed at least 44 worshipers during a mass religious rally in Mount Meron overnight.
Thousands of devotees gathered at the mountain burial site to celebrate the feast of Lag B’Omer, an annual event to pay homage to the second-century Mishnaic sage, Rabbi Shim Bar Yochai.
But in the wee hours of Friday morning, chanting and dancing erupted into chaos, as a huge wave of people trapped others under them, including children, witnesses told Reuters.
“We were going to go inside for the dancing and stuff and all of a sudden we saw MADA paramedics running around, like being CPR on the kids, then one after another started to come out. “said Shlomo Katz.
Another participant, Wice Israel, said he saw people fall to the ground. “There were a lot of people and there were about 60,000 to 70,000 people, nowhere to move, and people started to fall to the ground, many fell to the ground,” he said.
Dov Maisel, of the volunteer emergency organization United Hatzalah, told CNN that about 50,000 to 100,000 people were on the mountain.
He said thousands of people squeezed into a small area fell down a staircase and crashed. “Overall they usually crowd control, but at some point at the top the crowd got too tight,” Maisel said.
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