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Dozens killed during stampede at religious event in northern Israel

"The loss of life among worshipers practicing their faith is heartbreaking," U.S. President Joe Biden said Friday.

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Dozens killed during stampede at religious event in northern Israel
Members of the Hatzalah rescue team embrace at the scene of a stampede that killed dozens of people Friday during the Lag Ba’Omer Jewish Festival on Mt. Meron in northern Israel. Photo by Hazalah/UPI | License Photo

April 30 (UPI) -- At least 45 worshipers were killed Friday and many were injured when a stampede erupted during an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish celebration in northern Israel, authorities said.

Emergency medical service Magen David Adom said earlier that almost 40 people were injured critically on Mount Meron, where the stampede occurred. Numerous medical helicopters and ambulances were sent in to transport the dead and hundreds of injured.

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The Jerusalem Post reported that the ages of the victims ranged from 21 to 52.

"[We are] fighting for the lives of dozens wounded, and will not give up until the last victim is evacuated," Magen David Adom tweeted.

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The Post, Haaretz and The Times of Israel reported that the death toll exceeds 40 people. Among the dead was Rabbi Eliezer Goldberg.

Emergency personnel were sent after the stampede to evacuate patients from the mountain in Galilee, where tens of thousands had congregated for the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Lag B'Omer holiday.

MDA originally said that a collapsed bleacher at the site caused the accident and said it occurred around midnight Thursday.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site Friday and called the stampede a "heavy disaster."

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"We are all praying for the recovery of the injured," he said. "I ask to strengthen the rescue forces operating in the area."

"The United States stands with the people of Israel, and with Jewish communities the world over, in mourning the terrible tragedy at Mount Meron," U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement Friday. "I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu today to offer my profound condolences on behalf of the American people to our friends in Israel.

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"The loss of life among worshipers practicing their faith is heartbreaking. I have instructed my team to offer our assistance to the government and people of Israel as they respond to the disaster and care for the wounded.

"The people of the United States and Israel are bound together by our families, our faiths, and our histories, and we will stand with our friends. Our prayers are with those who were injured and all those who lost loved ones. May their memories be a blessing. "

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