Israel religious festival crush kills 45

By Kara Fox, Nick Thompson, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 3:53 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021
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3:50 a.m. ET, April 30, 2021

"I saw twenty-plus CPRs ongoing at the same time:" responder describes aftermath of crush

From CNN's John Vause and Andrew Carey

An Israeli military helicopter evacuates injured Jewish pilgrims from Ziv hospital in the Israeli northern city of Safed to the central Israel hospitals.
An Israeli military helicopter evacuates injured Jewish pilgrims from Ziv hospital in the Israeli northern city of Safed to the central Israel hospitals. Jalaa Marey/AFP/Getty Images

Volunteer EMT Kalanit Taub, a first responder at the scene, told CNN there was “non-stop people to care for" in the wake of the crush.

Taub described place where the crush occurred as a "horrific scene," and said that there were people giving CPR everywhere she looked.

“Literally, I saw twenty-plus CPRs ongoing at the same time,” Taub said.
“Anywhere you looked, you saw another person doing CPR … it was just nonstop one after another.”

She added that a paramedic next to her was declaring person after person dead. 

Taub, who is also a member of a psychological trauma treatment unit, said she also took care of nearly 100 people in the aftermath of Friday’s incident in addition to performing CPR.

“I was walking around the site for a number of hours afterwards and there were people on the side crying or just staring into space and I helped them process what they were dealing with," she said.

“They didn’t know how to cope with what they had just seen,” she said. 

Taub recalled how the religious gathering went from a joyous occasion to a disaster very quickly.

“In seconds it went from a site where people were singing and joyous, to mass chaos, pandemonium and death,” she said.

3:50 a.m. ET, April 30, 2021

Netanyahu calls crush "huge disaster"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted about the crush on Friday morning, describing it a "huge disaster."

"We are all praying for the well-being of the injured. I want to strengthen the hand of those carrying out rescue efforts and who are operating on site," Netanyahu said.

Lazar Hyman, vice president of United Hatzalah, said it was one of the worst tragedies that he had ever experienced. "I have not seen anything like this since I entered into the field of emergency medicine back in 2000," said Hyman.

3:44 a.m. ET, April 30, 2021

There was "no place to move, and people started to fall to the ground," witness says

Israeli security officials and rescuers stand around the bodies of victims who died during Lag Ba'Omer celebrations at Mount Meron.
Israeli security officials and rescuers stand around the bodies of victims who died during Lag Ba'Omer celebrations at Mount Meron. Ishay Jerusalemite/Behadrei Haredim/AP

Israeli investigators are examining what caused a crush that killed at least 44 worshipers at a mass religious gathering in Mount Meron overnight.

Thousands of worshipers had crowded onto the mountain burial site to celebrate the Lag B'Omer holiday, an annual event to pay homage to second-century Mishnaic sage Rabbi Shim Bar Yochai.

But in the early hours of Friday morning, singing and dancing erupted into chaos, as a huge wave of people trapped others beneath them, including children, witnesses told Reuters.

"We were going to go inside for the dancing and stuff and all of the sudden we saw paramedics from MADA running by, like mid-CPR on kids, and then one after the other started coming out," said Shlomo Katz.

Another attendee, Wice Israel, said he saw people falling to the ground. "It was crowded and there were there around 60,000 to 70,000 people, no place to move, and people started to fall to the ground, a lot fell to the ground," he said.

Dov Maisel from the volunteer-based emergency organization United Hatzalah told CNN that an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people had been on the mountain.

He said thousands of people tightly packed in a small area had fallen down a staircase and crushed each other. "Overall they usually control the crowd, but at a certain point at the peak the crowd became too tight," Maisel said.