Queen offers condolences to victims of Israeli festival crush

Luke O'Reilly
·2-min read
<p>A mourner at a funeral ceremony for the victims</p> (AP)

A mourner at a funeral ceremony for the victims

(AP)

The Queen has offered her condolences after at least 45 people people were killed during a crush at a crowded Orthodox Jewish festival in Israel.

In a message to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, she spoke of being “deeply saddened” by the incident, saying her thoughts were with the families of those who lost their lives.

The disaster, one of the country’s deadliest civilian disasters, came after a stampede at a religious festival attended by tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in northern Israel.

At least 45 people were killed and 150 were injured, medical officials have said.

At least 45 people were killed and 150 were injuredAP
At least 45 people were killed and 150 were injuredAP

The Queen’s letter, addressed to the country’s president Reuven Rivlin, wrote: “I was deeply saddened by news of the disaster at the Lag B’Omer festival in Meron, Israel.

“My thoughts are with all those who have been injured, and the friends and families of those who lost their lives. They have my deepest sympathies.

“Elizabeth R.”

The incident occurred during celebrations of Lag BaOmer at Mount Meron, the first mass religious gathering held in Israel after coronavirus restrictions were lifted in the country.

The disaster came after a stampede at the Lag BaOmer  religious festivalUnited Hatzalah/AFP via Getty Im
The disaster came after a stampede at the Lag BaOmer religious festivalUnited Hatzalah/AFP via Getty Im

Crowds of around 100,000 are estimated to have visited the event.

Large numbers of people are said to have tried to enter a narrow passage, witnesses have said.

People reportedly fell on top of each other near a walkway after going down metal stairs.

Footage has shown a crowd of people trying to enter the tunnel, with witnesses saying police barricades stopped them from exiting quickly.

The country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has promised an inquiry will take place into the tragedy, after calling it “one of the worst disasters that has befallen the state of Israel”.

However, while visiting the area, Mr Netanyahu was jeered by dozens of ultra-Orthodox protesters who blamed the government and police for the incident.

Photographs have shown rows of wrapped bodies lying on the ground and dozens of ambulances in the area.

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