25 YEARS AGO ...
Do you remember this catastrophe?
Twenty-five years ago, on July 14, 1997, a makeshift pedestrian bridge leading to the opening ceremony of the 15th Maccabiah Games in Israel’s Ramat Gan Stadium splintered, cracked and then collapsed. The 370-strong Australian contingent was crossing the wooden bridge at the time.
Athletes, coaches and managers were sent hurtling into the polluted Yarkon River. Shattered scaffolding and fellow participants crashed onto the Australians as they struggled to extricate themselves from the mangled wreckage and clamber up the slippery banks.
As helicopters buzzed overhead, Australians were ferried away on stretchers and armed soldiers did their best to curb the panic, all of it adding to the hysteria and confusion.
This week, 535 Australians aged 13 to 83 are due to march at the opening ceremony of the 21st Maccabiah – ranking alongside Canada as the third-largest contingent after Israel and the US. A ceremony to honour the four who lost their lives will be held at the site of the tragedy.