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Mount Meron stampede is “one of the worst disasters” in Israeli history, PM says


Ultra-Orthodox Jews watch the stage on April 30 after the Lag B’Omer festival on Mount Meron in Israel. Sebastian Scheiner / AP

The director general of the Israeli emergency services, Eli Bin, said on Friday that the Mount Meron crash was “one of the most difficult civil disasters the State of Israel has ever known.”

“It is difficult to contain the scale of the disaster,” Bin, who heads Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency service, added in a statement Friday.

Following the incident that killed dozens of people, MDA provided medical treatment to 150 people, the statement said.

Bin said that a complex security operation was put in place in preparation for the religious holiday and that on Thursday morning they participated in a large police-led exercise.

“Yesterday morning we participated in a big exercise led by the Israeli police and we never imagined that we would find ourselves in such a complex and difficult event. All the forces acted swiftly and with dedication in a very difficult and complex arena, in coordination and cooperation with all factors, ”Bin said in the statement.

MDA paramedic Omri Hochman, who was one of the first to arrive to treat the wounded, recalled the chaos: “We arrived and there was a big commotion, dozens of people ran in our direction, they shouted at us where to go and told us that there were dozens of injured. The views were very difficult, dozens of injured lay in a narrow hallway and next to it. Dozens of others were walking around suffering from various injuries. There were cries of pain, sighs and there were those who passed out and needed resuscitation. “
Maor Atadgi, another MDA paramedic added: “We have rescued the injured from lots of people and carried out resuscitation operations on people who have been fatally injured. Our large forces have rescued the injured, some in the MDA clinics and others in ambulances. In all my years at MDA, I cannot remember such a serious disaster. “

Each year, MDA forces are stationed at Mount Meron for the Lag B’Omer festival, with hundreds of ambulances, intensive care vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs and unique rescue vehicles and clinics adapted to secure the event, MDA said.

Calls began arriving Friday morning at 12:49 am local time for the injured in distress near the “Toldot Aharon” celebration near the rabbi’s grave in Meron, the statement said.

A “multi-casualty incident” was immediately declared and MDA forces from across the country were deployed, the statement concluded.

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