Attempts were still underway to identify loved ones with missing relatives and victims after a deadly stampede at a religious gathering in Israel killed about 45 people on Friday.
Israel’s Consulate General office in the United States told ABC News and the New York Times that it had confirmed four Americans included in the people who died.
The stampede is described as one of the country’s deadliest civilian disasters, approx. Mount Meron gathered one hundred thousand people on early Friday for the festival of Lag BaOmer, a holiday that commemorates Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a mystic and a third-century sage who is buried at the base of the mountain.
The country’s ambulance service, Zaka, confirmed around 150 people were injured. The death toll had risen to 45 with six in serious condition, said a spokesperson for the Magen David Adom rescue service, Zaki Heller.
Donny Morris, an 18-year-old man from Bergenfield, was at Mount Meron for the festival of Lag BaOmer, a holiday celebrated at the base of the mountain each year. He was killed in the stampede, according to his family. The festival drew about 100,000 people and was the first religious celebration since the Coronavirus pandemic began.
“We are all devastated and shocked. There are no words,” said Rabbi Morris, the victim’s uncle, who confirmed his death on Friday.
Motti Bukchin, Zaka’s spokesperson, said the bodies were being taken to a location for certification, and families were being notified. He said he assumes the deceased to be buried before sunset of the Jewish Sabbath.
“It is one of the worst tragedy’s that has fallen on the state of Israel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He visited Mount Meron briefly on Friday. He added a day of mourning would be Sunday.