At least four people died and about 30 were seriously injured when the stands of a bullring collapsed in a city in central Colombia on Sunday, local authorities said.
“Four people are dead at the moment. Two women, an adult man and a minor,” Tolima department governor Jose Ricardo Orozco said on local radio.
The accident happened in the town of Espinal during a local bullfighting show, a sort of fair where the public descend into the arena to face oxen and small bulls.
According to spectacular drone images recovered by AFP, an entire section of the three-story wooden grandstand packed with spectators collapsed, knocking dozens of people to the ground.
“More or less 30 people are seriously injured (…) it is a preliminary report, they are still in the process of transferring the injured,” added the governor.
“We’re still waiting to see how many people are under the rubble, we don’t know how many. As you can see in the videos, almost the entire wing was full of people and collapsed,” Major Luis Fernando Vélez, director of Tolima’s civil defense department, told the same radio station.
Another amateur video shows the audience trying to escape the debris of wood and tin as a bull continues to roam the arena.
The accident happened at the Gilberto Charry bullring during the bank holiday weekend celebrating the San Pedro Fiestas, the most popular in the region.
“We will request an investigation into the matter (…). Solidarity with the families of the victims,” President Ivan Duque said on Twitter.
Governor Orozco has warned he will call for “the suspension of all these types of celebrations,” saying these events “assault the lives of animals” and “encourage their mistreatment.”
The day before, several people were injured by cops during the same festival in El Espinal, a town of around 78,000 people located 150 kilometers southwest of Bogota.
The new President Gustavo Petro, who was elected last weekend and will take office at the beginning of August, has joined the local governor’s appeal.
“I urge city halls to stop authorizing shows that involve the death of people or animals,” he responded on Twitter, casually recalling the death of hundreds of people when another arena collapsed in the community of Sincelejo (North) in 1980.
As mayor of Bogota (2012-2015), Petro finished bullfighting in La Santamaría, the capital’s famous bullring.
The Colombian judiciary punishes animal abuse, but practices such as bullfighting and cockfighting still take place as cultural events.