May 14, 2021

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British man, 24, among dozens killed in Israel stampede

A 24-year-old British man was among the 45 people crushed to death during a stampede at a religious festival in northeast Israel on Friday, the Foreign Office has said.

Moshe Bergman, from Manchester, was named in reports as the Brit killed at Mount Meron. He was reportedly studying in Israel, where he is said to have been living with his wife of eighteen months.

A Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of a British man who sadly died at the Mount Meron stampede.”

The deadly stampede began as hundreds of thousands of people attempted to funnel through a narrow passageway descending the mountain during the Lag BaOmer religious festival, which was attended by almost 100,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Witnesses said that people began falling on top of each other near the end of the passageway which was followed by slippery metal stairs. 150 people were injured.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the incident as “one of the worst disasters that has befallen the state of Israel” and promised to launch an inquiry.

The Queen offered her condolences to Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, saying she was “deeply saddened” by the disaster.

She wrote: “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.”

The festival was the first major religious gathering since Israel lifted the majority of its Covid-19 restrictions.

Ultra-Orthdox Jews visit the mountain to celebrate the Lag Ba’Omer holiday because it is believed to be the burial site of the 2nd century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Rescue crews said that the site was only built to accommodate around a quarter of the visitors present on the day of the disaster.