Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men take part in a funeral ceremony in Jerusalem for a victim of the overnight stampede during a religious gathering in northern Israel
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men take part in a funeral ceremony in Jerusalem for a victim of the overnight stampede during a religious gathering in northern Israel
AFP

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.

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

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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