Raging bull rams spectators in Spain, more than 30 injured

19th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Three people, including a 10-year-old boy, remained in hospital Thursday with injuries suffered when a bull charged into a crowd of terrified spectators at a bullring in Spain, local authorities said.

Spanish television showed dramatic images of screaming spectators, including children, frantically trying to avoid the rampaging animal after it leapt several metres (yards) over a security barrier and then clambered over a fence and into the crowded stands Wednesday evening.

The animal stumbled around the stands before falling down several steps, crushing more people, at the bullring in the town of Tafalla, in the northern Navarra region.

Several employees of the bullring finally managed to get a rope around the bull after about 15 minutes, and it was killed and removed by a crane.

The Navarra regional government said 32 people were treated at hospitals and clinics. Most suffered minor injuries such as bruising and were released, but three remained hospitalised Thursday.

A 10-year-old boy was in serious but stable condition with "abdominal trauma" after the bull fell on him, it said in a statement.

A 23-year-old woman was being treated for a crushed vertebrae, and a 47-year-old man for wounds suffered when he was gored in the lower back. Both were in stable condition.

In addition to the 32, "several more" suffered shock or minor scratches and bruises, the statement said.

The incident did not take place during a traditional bullfight but during a contest of "recortadores", in which participants try to dodge the bull while staying as close to it as possible.

The bull, named Quesero, had already twice tried to jump the barrier during the event, breaking one of its horns, and was about to be removed from the arena when it launched itself into the crowd.

"I was terrified. I ran out of the stadium, crying," one young woman told the television of the neighbouring Basque region.

Another young woman said, "people started to fall over each other... Then I couldn't find my friends, what happened was awful."

"I have never felt so afraid. I'm still shaking," one of those injured told the ABC newspaper.

"The bull had already made a few attempts, but I was relatively calm. And suddenly, I saw that the animal had jumped and, after staying stuck on the fence for a few seconds, it came over. Then there was chaos... There was stomping, pushing, shrieks, blows."

The Navarra government said most of the spectators were young people who were able to react in time to avoid the bull, or the number of casualties could have been far higher.

Such incidents are very unusual at bullfights. Although the animals occasionally manage to leap the security barrier they very rarely get into the stands.

Wednesday's incident came amid intense debate in Spain over the centuries-old tradition of bullfighting.

The northeastern region of Catalonia last month became the first part of mainland Spain to ban the practice, which animal activists condemn as a form of torture and others see as part of the country's cultural heritage.

In a recent opinion poll, 60 percent of Spaniards said they do not approve of the spectacle, which ends with the death of the bull from a well-placed sword.

Navarra, where Tafalla is located, is famous for the traditional "running of the bulls" in the regional capital of Pamplona.

Dozens of people are injured each year when the runners try to outrace bulls which charge through the old town's narrow streets to a bullring where a bullfight is staged.

© 2010 AFP

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