JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli rescue service says more than 40 people have been killed in a stampede at a popular religious festival in northern Israel. The disaster occurred at celebrations for Lag BaOmer, a holiday when tens of thousands of people gather to honor a 2nd century rabbi buried at Israel’s Mount Meron. The holiday is popular primarily with ultra-Orthodox Jews. Eli Beer, director of the Hatzalah ambulance service, said the event was overcrowded. “More than 40 people died as a result of this tragedy,” he told Army Radio. Israel’s main rescue service, Magen David Adom, says 150 people were hospitalized, and various media say the death toll has climbed to 44. The cause of the stampede was not immediately clear. But witnesses described a terrifying site, with people crushed in a small area.

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