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LATIN AMERICA | 28-06-2022 10:56

Four dead, hundreds hurt as stands collapse in Colombia bullring

A toddler was among four people killed when the grandstand at a bullring in Colombia collapsed, injuring hundreds of others.

A toddler was among four people killed when the grandstand at a bullring in Colombia collapsed, injuring hundreds of others, officials said Monday.

One person died at the scene and three died in hospital, according to Juan Carlos Tamayo, the mayor of El Espinal, the central city where the collapse happened on Sunday.

The fatalities included a toddler of 14 months, Tamayo said.

Martha Palacios, health secretary in the department of Tolima, said 322 people were treated at various hospitals, of whom four were in intensive care.

People were taking part in a so-called "corraleja" – where members of the public face off with small bulls – when a three-story section of wooden stands holding spectators collapsed.

Attendees were hurled from their seats into the arena, where at least one bull was running around, according to drone images.

The event, on a holiday weekend, was part of celebrations for the festival of San Pedro, the most popular in the region.

"Our bullring is made up of 44 stands of which eight fell, each with 100 people," said Tamayo. 

 

‘Very difficult'

"I saw people amid the rubble, others trying to get out, very difficult," Samuel Galindo, a neighbour who recorded the tragedy with a drone, told the AFP.

President Iván Duque said on Twitter he would order an investigation, and expressed his solidarity with the victims and their next of kin.

The governor of Tolima department, José Ricardo Orozco, said the regional government would move to ban the corralejas, saying they were dangerous and promoted animal abuse.

On Saturday, several people were injured at the corralejas in El Espinal, a city of some 78,000 people about 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the capital Bogotá.

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

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 Bogotá, leftist Petro put a stop to bullfights in the city's signature bullring, La Santamaría.

"I ask the mayors not to authorise any more events with the death of people or animals," he said on Twitter Sunday, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

While animal abuse is a crime in Colombia, bullfights and cock fights are protected as a cultural inheritance. 

 

–    TIMES/AFP
 

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