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Israel holds day of mourning for stampede victims

10:04 PM May 03, 2021 | IANS

Israel observed a national day of mourning for the 45 people who were killed in a stampede disaster at Mount Meron on April 29.

Flags were lowered to half-mast across Israel on Sunday and the country's diplomatic missions abroad, and cultural and sports events were cancelled, reports Xinhua news agency.

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The incident was described as one of Israel's worst civilian disasters since the founding of the country in 1948.

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Besides at least 13 children and teenagers aged under 18, the 45 ultra-Orthodox victims also include six US citizens, an Argentinian and a Canadian.

Calls to appoint an investigation committee chaired by a judge ncreased on Sunday amid anger towards authorities for overlooking repeated warnings by experts of possible overcrowding.

Also on Sunday, a group of retired police chiefs and commissioners issued a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him to launch a national committee with wide-ranging authority to investigate.

More than 100,000 people gathered on April 29 for a traditional festival to mark the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer.

The stampede is believed to have started when people moved through a narrow passageway with slippery metal flooring.

The disaster also resulted in at least 150 injuries.

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