Incident began at around 1 a.m., at bonfire lighting ceremony

The tragedy began at around 1 am on Friday, emergency services say.

A bonfire lighting ceremony for Toldot Aharon hasidim was being held at the pilgrimage area, close to the gravesite of the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, amid huge, densely packed crowds, first reports indicate.

The overcrowding led to some people falling, and other people falling over them, precipitating a stampede and fatal crushing, according to a Channel 12 news report.

Warning: Graphic footage. The video below shows the evacuation of some of the injured.

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