A gala festival Sunday in Colombia ended in disaster when a rudimentary stadium partially collapsed in the middle of a bullfight, causing hundreds of people to fall to the ground.
No fewer than four people died, while more than 500 were injured, according to the country’s largest newspaper.
The sudden collapse of the three-level stadium was captured live by local television and attendees rushed to broadcast the clip on social media. Footage shows people, including several matadors, screaming and scrambling for safety as the timbers stand upside down, throwing some spectators dozens of feet to the ground.
Local authorities in El Espinal, a city southwest of Colombia’s capital, have not released an exact figure for those injured or killed. But initial estimates were around 500 people expected to be injured.
According to Colombian outlet Red+Noticias, Tolima Governor Ricardo Orozco told local radio shortly after the incident that at least one child had been counted among the dead.
El Espinal Mayor Juan Carlos Tamayo Salas said authorities had responded to the scene, transporting injured onlookers to local hospitals.
A local councilor told El Tiempo That the accident overwhelmed first responders and medical facilities. The newspaper quoted him as saying, “We need ambulances and support from neighboring hospitals, with many people still absent.”
At least one bull also fled the stadium in the ensuing chaos, sending local residents to dive for cover as it trampled on the streets of the city. It was not immediately clear whether officials were able to retrieve the animal.
The bullfight was apparently arranged as a traditional coraleja The event is part of celebrations of a busy holiday season, with Colombians observing the feast days of St. John the Baptist, St. Peter and St. Paul, who have just celebrated the Sacred Heart.
Tolima’s director of civil defense told local media that several people were injured, with at least one person left in critical condition after the stadium’s bulls jumped into the corral. It was unclear whether these injuries occurred before or after the fall, as spectators are traditionally encouraged to engage the bulls directly during one. korleja
Colombia’s elected President Gustavo Petro reacted to the accident by tweeting that he wished a speedy recovery to those affected. Referring to an infamous and similar incident at Sinsalejo in 1980, which killed more than 220 people and injured more than 500, Petro urged local government officials not to authorize further bull festivals.
Stadium collapses are rare but not unheard of in rural areas of Colombia. In 2008, at least 80 people were injured when an overcrowded stadium collapsed during a bullfight in Planadas.