Charging bulls injure 10 in Spanish fiesta

10th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Half-tonne fighting bulls trampled, dragged and knocked over runners on a breakneck bull-run in Spain's San Fermin festival Sunday, injuring at least 10 people, officials said.

Thousands of thrill-seekers packed around six bulls and six steers racing and often skidding through the winding, cobbled streets of the northern Spanish city Pamplona.

Revellers packed overhanging balconies as the beasts bolted 846.6 metres from a holding pen to the city's bull-fighting ring in a very quick two minutes 29 seconds.

One runner wearing traditional white, with red handkerchief, sprinted ahead of a pack of three bulls but could not outrun them.

Knocked over, trapped between two of the beasts, and then kicked by other passing bulls, he was dragged about the length of four bulls and left sprawling in the street.

Another bull skidded on the cobbles and was hit by another beast tearing around the corner.

A middle-aged man could be seen cowering on the pavement and squeezed against a wall to avoid the tips of a passing bull's horns. Another fell before the pack and curled up to shield himself from the hooves.

In all, the Red Cross reported at least 10 injuries including bruises, dislocated joints and head injuries but no gorings in the fourth of eight bull runs that mark this alcohol-fuelled festival that runs to July 14.

The Sunday bull run at the San Fermin festival draws the largest crowds and organisers blamed the high number of participants, estimated by some media at more than 3,000, for the slips and falls.

In the most serious injury so far, a 25-year-old Australian man was gored in his right thigh during Friday's bull run after he taunted one of the bulls. The Red Cross said Sunday he was improving.

A 23-year-old French man was also gored, less seriously, on Saturday.

Every year between 200 and 300 participants in the run are injured. Most are hurt after falling but some are trampled or gored by the bulls despite increased safety measures.

The most recent death occurred two years ago when a bull gored a 27-year-old Spaniard to death, piercing his neck, heart and lungs with its horns in front of hordes of tourists.

The city of some 200,000 residents expects the festival, which runs until Thursday, will lure at least as many tourists as last year when 1.5 million people turned out and hotels reported a 95-percent occupancy rate.

The action is also followed by millions more on television.

© 2011 AFP

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