Four dead, dozens hurt as stands collapse in Colombia bullring

Four dead, dozens hurt as stands collapse in Colombia bullring

Map locating El Espinal in Colombia.
Map locating El Espinal in Colombia.

BOGOTA - At least four people were killed and another 30 seriously injured on Sunday when the grandstand at a bullring in Colombia collapsed during a popular event at which members of the public face off with small bulls, officials said.

"There are four people dead at the moment -- two women, a man and a child," the governor of Tolima department, Jose Ricardo Orozco, told local radio after the incident in the central city of El Espinal.

A full three-story section of wooden stands filled with spectators collapsed, throwing dozens of people to the ground, according to images broadcast on social media.

Another video taken by someone at the scene showed people trying to escape from the stands while a bull continues to roam in the arena.

"There are about 30 people seriously injured... that's a preliminary report," Orozco said, noting that emergency personnel were still evacuating the wounded to area hospitals for treatment.

Local civil defense official Luis Fernando Velez said they did not know how many people were still buried in the debris, but noted that the section of stands was full when it collapsed.

The event was part of celebrations surrounding the San Pedro festival, the most popular in the region.

"We will request an investigation of the facts about what happened," Colombia's outgoing President Ivan Duque said on Twitter, expressing his solidarity with the families of those killed and hurt.

Orozco said the departmental government would move to ban the so-called "corralejas" in which local residents try their luck in the ring, saying they were dangerous and promoted animal abuse.

On Saturday, several people were injured in accidents at the corralejas in El Espinal, which is home to about 78,000 people, and is located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the capital Bogota.

Another person died earlier this month after being gored by a bull during a corraleja in the town of Repelon.

President-Elect Gustavo Petro, who will take office on August 7, joined Orozco in calling for the amateur bullfights to be banned.

When he served as mayor of Bogota, the leftist Petro put a stop to bullfights in the city's signature bullring, La Santamaria.

While animal abuse is a crime in Colombia, bullfights and cock fights are protected because of the cultural history behind them.

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