Several New Yorkers were among 45 people trampled to death in a horrific “human avalanche” that began during the silence of a religious celebration in Israel, it was reported on Friday.
Menachem Noblovitz of Borrow Park, Brooklyn, was fatally crushed during a pilgrimage that drew thousands to Mount Meron on Thursday night, according to a Jerusalem post.
The 22-year-old man reportedly got engaged to Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Rosemary’s daughter from Lakewood just two weeks ago.
Joseph Amram Tauber, who traveled to Jerusalem from the city of Monsi to study, was also killed in three Jewish holy sites, the newspaper reported.
Eliezer Josef, a 26-year-old father of four by Kiryas Joel, and Shragy Gestetner, a 33-year-old rabbi scientist from Ermont province, also died at the scene, according to recordonline.com.
There were also victims from New Jersey, including Nachman Daniel Morris, 1
Two pairs of Israeli brothers, the youngest of whom was 9, also died on the spot.
About 100,000 people – many of them super-Orthodox men – were crammed into the mountain complex after arriving on buses to celebrate the annual Lag Ba’omer celebrations, the New York Times reported.
The joyous celebration turned into a nightmare when dozens of adults and children were crushed and suffocated in a crowded narrow corridor, the newspaper reported, citing witnesses.
The silence unfolded as people flocked from one part of the complex and down the stairs to a sloping metal door – causing difficulty around 1 a.m. Friday.
Some celebrants fainted or slipped, probably due to spilled water, setting off a horrific “human avalanche” and turning the corridor into a death trap, a witness said.
“For some reason, there was sudden pressure at that moment and people stopped. But more and more people kept coming down, “Chaim Wertheimer, who was hospitalized after the press, told the Jewish news site Ynet. “People were not breathing. I remember hundreds of people shouting, “I can’t breathe!”
Another witness, Dvir Cohen, said a huge group of people were trying to leave at the same time.
“There was a staircase where the first people stumbled and everyone just stomped on them. I was in the second row of people, “he said. “People stepped on me, hundreds of them.”
For more than a decade, there have been warnings that the site is unable to cope with the huge masses that flock there for celebrations.
In 2008 and 2011, a state inspector warned of a potential disaster at the site, the Times reported.
“We will conduct a thorough, serious and in-depth investigation to ensure that such a disaster does not happen again,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, families rushed to bury their dead before Saturday at sunset on Friday. Israelis across the country also lined up to donate blood to help the wounded.
Israeli authorities had not limited attendance, despite the risks of COVID-19.
An Israeli police officer in charge of security for the holiday took partial responsibility for the disaster on Friday morning.
Additional reporting by Larry Selona