Colombia: four dead and scores hurt as stand collapses at bullring

Police launch investigation after incident at popular bull-running event

People gather near the rubble of a grandstand that collapsed in a bullring during the celebrations of the San Pedro festivities, in El Espinal, Colombia. Reuters.
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Four people were killed and about 70 injured on Sunday when part of a stand collapsed at a bullring in the town of El Espinal, Colombia, provincial officials said.

Videos on social media showed the section of the stand toppling forward into the ring, where locals were taking part in a bull-running event tied to the feast day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

"There are four dead at this moment — two women, a man and a minor," Tolima provincial governor Jose Ricardo Orozco told local Blu Radio.

No one remained trapped in the wreckage, Maj Luis Fernando Velez, director of civil defence in the province, told local Caracol TV, and several people reported as missing had been found.

"The emergency has been overcome at the site of the incident. More or less 70 people were injured," Maj Velez said.

Ambulances were sent from the nearby cities of Ibague and Melgar to help the injured, who have overwhelmed El Espinal's hospital, Mr Velez said.

He said he did not know exactly what the stand was built with but it appeared to be wooden boards.

The event was part of celebrations surrounding the San Pedro festival, which is the region's most popular.

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

Governor of Tolima department, Jose Ricardo Orozco, said the government would move to ban the "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 about 150 kilometres from the capital Bogota.

Another person died 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 Mr Orozco in calling for the amateur bullfights to be banned.

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

Updated: June 27, 2022, 4:41 AM