A stampede at a religious festival is Israel this morning killed at least 45 people and left some 150 others injured.
Israeli investigators are examining exactly how the crush happened at Israel's Mount Meron. In the meantime, here's what we know so far:
- What happened: A stampede broke out at Israel's Mount Meron, killing at least 45 people. Worshipers had gathered at the mountain to mark the Lag B'Omer holiday, an annual event where participants sing, dance and light fires in homage to second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at his burial site.
- Americans among the dead and injured: A State Department spokesperson said "multiple" US citizens were among those killed and injured in the stampede. Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with his Israeli counterpart on Friday to offer his condolences on the deadly incident.
- Event allowed during Covid-19 pandemic: Israel's health ministry had urged people not to attend the festival, warning of the risk of another coronavirus outbreak. However, case numbers have been low, and Israel has already fully vaccinated more than 58% of its population, so the event was allowed to proceed. Dov Maisel, vice president of operations at the volunteer-based emergency organization United Hatzalah, told CNN that around 100,000 people were in attendance.