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Israel to Resume Stampede Funerals after Sabbath Pause

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Israel was preparing Saturday to bury more victims of a stampede that killed at least 45 people at a Jewish pilgrimage site, one of the nation’s worst peacetime disasters.

Most of the victims were ultra-Orthodox Jews and funerals were expected to be held after sunset which ends the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest.

Some funerals had already taken place on Friday, just hours after the overnight disaster.

Tens of thousands of people had thronged to Mount Meron and the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai to mark the Lag BaOmer holiday and commemorate the second-century Talmudic sage’s death.

“So far, the bodies of 32 victims of the Meron disaster have been identified,” the Israeli Health Ministry said late Friday, adding that 22 bodies had been released for burial.

“Due to the start of the Sabbath, and by order of the Chief Rabbi of Israel, it is not possible to continue the process” of identification or to hold funerals, it said, adding that this would resume from Saturday evening.

‘Complex and sensitive’

Identification of some of the bodies may require fingerprinting, DNA and dental testing, the ministry said.

“We are working hard, but you have to understand that this is a complex and sensitive process,” said Dr. Chen Kugel, director of the National Center of Forensic Medicine.

Work must be done “responsibly” to avoid mistakes, he added.

The pilgrimage was one of the largest public gatherings in Israel since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted last year.

In a cruel irony, the Lag BaOmer holiday celebrates the end of a plague that killed thousands of Talmudic students at the time of Rabbi Bar Yochai.

Israel has fully vaccinated more than half of its 9.3 million population against the coronavirus, but restrictions remain on large public gatherings.

Officials had warned overcrowding could lead to a spike in infections, and only authorised 10,000 to attend.

Several Israeli media outlets reported that about 100,000 people had attended the pilgrimage, although AFP could not immediately confirm that figure.

Before the tragedy, a tightly-packed crowd was singing and dancing, praying and lighting candles, according to images filmed by AFP.

Men and women were separated, and children were also present.

‘Heartbreaking’

There were conflicting reports about what caused the crush, but multiple witnesses said scores of people trampled each other as they moved through a narrow passage.

Some blamed police for blocking access to a ramp that could have allowed some to escape.

The police “closed it (the ramp). Then, more people arrived, and more and more… and police wouldn’t let them exit, so people started to fall on top of each other,” Shmuel, 18, told AFP.

There were also indications that pilgrims had tried to burst through iron barricades as the choke-point formed.

The Magen David Adom rescue agency said an estimated 150 had been injured, and dozens of ambulances, military and civilian helicopters rushed them to hospital.

“What happened here is heartbreaking,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday after visiting the site.

The disaster was “one of the worst to hit” Israel since its foundation seven decades ago, he added, promising a “thorough, serious and in-depth investigation in order to ensure that such a disaster does not recur”.

Northern Israel’s police chief Shimon Lavi said his officers had done all they could to save lives on a “tragic night”, but that he was prepared to assume “overall responsibility”.

Funerals

On Friday, funerals were held in Jerusalem and the mainly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, where men in traditional long black coats lined the streets to mourn.

Among the victims was 38-year-old Elazar Goldberg.

“Ask up there that God protects your children,” his father said, as his son was laid to rest in Jerusalem.

US President Joe Biden led world leaders expressing their condolences, saying “the loss of life among worshippers practising their faith is heartbreaking.”

The State Department said several US citizens were among the casualties.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas sent prayers “for the victims and hope for the recovery of the injured”.

European Council chief Charles Michel wished “strength and courage” to the Israeli people, while Britain’s Queen Elizabeth said she was “deeply saddened by news of the disaster”.

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Karnataka Temporarily Suspends Vaccination For 18-44 Age Group, Will Prioritise Second Dose

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Owing to the short supply of Covid vaccines, Karnataka on Wednesday decided to ‘temporarily suspend’ vaccination drive for those aged between 18 to 44 years.

In a series of tweets, the Karnataka Health department said that the state government has decided that the vaccine procured directly by the state government for vaccination of persons between 18 and 44 years too will be utilised for vaccination of beneficiaries who are due for the second dose.

“Therefore, all vaccines available with the state government i.e. supplied by union government and procured directly by state will be utilized for vaccination of beneficiaries due for second dose,” the Karnataka health department tweet explained.

The Health department added that vaccination drives for the 18 to 44 age group, including those who have already booked appointments will be temporarily suspended from May 14 till further orders.

According to the health department, the state government on May 7 had decided to utilise the complete supply of vaccines provided by the union government for vaccination of persons above 45 years, for vaccinating beneficiaries who were due for second dose.

“But under the changed circumstances and severe shortage of vaccine, the vaccine procured directly by the state government for vaccination of persons between 18 to 44 years too will be utilised for vaccination of beneficiaries who are due for second dose,” a senior health department official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The health department added that this order will be applicable for Covid vaccination at all state-run Covid vaccination centres in the state.

As of now, only two vaccines manufactured by Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) and Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech are allowed in India for mass inoculation programme, but these companies are struggling to meet the country’s overwhelming demand for vaccines amid the ferocious second wave that has seen India’s Covid burden go up manifold.

Karnataka symbolically launched anti-Covid vaccination drive on May 1 but ever since it has failed to take off due to short supply of vaccines.

Karnataka Health minister, K. Sudhkar was first to state on April 30 that it was better to put off the launch of the drive on May 1 as the state had not received required stock and this was even endorsed by Chief Minister, B.S. Yediyurappa on that day. But, Yediyurappa the next day launched the vaccination drive symbolically on May 1.

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Check Out Tithi, Shubh Muhurat, Rahu Kaal and Other Details For Thursday

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(Representative pic: Shutterstock)

(Representative pic: Shutterstock)

Panchang: The day Guruvara is dedicated to Lord Brihaspati who is known as the priest of Gods

May 13 will mark the Shukla Paksha Dwitiya Tithi of Hindi month Vaishakha in Vikram Samvat 2078 and the day is Guruvara (Thursday). The Dwitiya tithi will prevail up to the full night on May 13. The day Guruvara is dedicated to Lord Brihaspati who is known as the priest of gods. Devotees observe fast and worship Lord Brihaspati by offering yellow flowers, sandals, clothes, jaggery and gram pulse. He is also believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Know about the tithi, timings, Nakshatra, and other details for May 13.

Sunrise and Sunset time for May 13:

Sunrise time – 05:32 am

Sunset time – 07.04 pm

Moonrise time – 06.26 am

Moonset time – 08.33 pm

Tithi, Nakshatra, and Rashi Details for May 13:

Dwitiya Tithi will prevail up to a full night on May 13. The Nakshatra will be Rohini up to the full night. Sun will remain in Mesha Rashi while Moon will transition to Vrishabha Rashi.

Shubh Muhurats on May 13:

The most auspicious muhurat of the day i.e, Abhijit Muhurat will prevail between 11:51 am and12:45 pm on May 13. This time period is believed to be one of the most auspicious muhurat to perform any puja or to start any work. There are some other shubh muhurats which also prevail for a certain period of time almost every day. These are Vijaya muhurat andGodhuli muhurat which will take place between 02:33 pm and03:27 pm, 06:50 pm and 07:14 pm, respectively. There will be no Amrit Kalam for today.

Inauspicious timings for May 13:

The most inauspicious muhurat Rahu Kalam will prevail between 1.59 pm and3.41 pm on May 13. It is said that any auspicious work during this time is interfered with by planet Rahu. Other inauspicious muhurat like Gulikai Kalam and Varjyam will last from 08:55 am to 10:36 am and 08:44 pm to 10:32 pm.

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Yogi Adityanath Takes Cognisance of Bodies Dumped in Ganga; UP-Bihar Govts Blame Each Other

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday took cognisance of bodies found floating in the Ganga in Ballia district and said the last rites should be done according to the deceased’s religious beliefs. He also noted that the dumping of bodies in water causes pollution.

At least 45 bodies were seen floating in floating near the Ujiyar, Kulhadia and Bharauli ghats in the Narahi area on Tuesday evening. Late on Tuesday night, seven more bodies were found, taking the total count of bodies to 52, an official said. District officials have begun performing the last to avoid Covid-19 contagion. The dumping of bodies also increases the risk of spreading infections in communities inhabiting the banks of rivers, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Bihar government on Tuesday said altogether 71 bodies have been fished out from the Ganges in Buxar district and were later cremated as per protocols. Some samples were, however, collected for DNA testing.

Bihar Additional chief secretary (home) Chaitanya Prasad said that the bodies in Buxar had flown downstream from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. Speaking to News18, he said, “All these dead bodies were being dumped in Ganga from Uttar Pradesh, which flowed and stopped at Chausa and Mahavir Ghat in Buxar (Bihar border). An investigation has been launched on the orders of the Bihar government regarding the issue.”

Officials of both UP and Bihar have discussed the issue with their counterparts, including the Chief Secretaries, Additional Chief Secretaries, DGPs and District Magistrates, sources said.

Bihar authorities have raised strong objections to the dumping of bodies amid Covid-19 pandemic concerns. However, both the states have agreed to implement strict Covid-19 protocol in bordering districts. As per reports, a huge net has also been put up in the Ganges near Raniganj, Buxar.

A video of bodies found buried in shallow pits near the banks of the Ganga had also gone viral. The viral video showed dogs nibbling on the corpses.

The Allahabad High Court had earlier expressed concern over the under-reporting of Covid-19 deaths and has asked the state to record the deaths of those who died with Covid symptoms even if their tests could not be done.

Uttar Pradesh reported 329 more Covid-19 deaths and 18,125 fresh cases in the last 24 hours.

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