The Colombian bullfight collapsed, causing death and injury – The Washington Post

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BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Several levels of crowded stands in an improvised arena collapsed during a bullfight in central Colombia on Sunday, leaving four people dead and hundreds injured – numbers that could increase in the coming hours — while terrified spectators were trapped in the rubble.

The tragedy happened in El Espinal, a small town located some 95 miles southwest of Bogota.

The footage of the collapse quickly went viral on social media. It featured dozens of people teasing and playing with a wounded bull during a popular event known as corraleja. Suddenly, three levels of tribunes have given way, catching hundreds of men, women and children below him. As people screamed, some jumped from their seats and rushed to the rescue, trying to discard the wood and other debris.

Hector Ortiz (64) could not believe the scene. The woman next to him shouted, “That balcony is going to collapse!” and he watched the eight parts retreat one after the other, like dominoes.

“After the first balcony collapsed, he pulled the next one, and so on, and so forth,” Ortiz told the Washington Post. “The gate through which the bulls pass has stopped collapsing. Otherwise, we would be talking about a much bigger tragedy. “

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Every year, the mayor’s office and private parties at El Espinal organize events to celebrate St. Peter’s Day on June 29th. The arena was erected for a spectacle that arose on the Caribbean coast when Colombia was a Spanish colony. Unlike traditional Spanish bullfights, bulls are not usually killed in corals,, and spectators are invited to run around with the animal still in the ring.

In cities like El Espinal, the event has evolved into a popular show.

Its bullring was built of bamboo reptiles, and multiple levels were packed with spectators. “The Gadua bamboo structure is quite unstable,” said Luis Fernando Velez, head of the regional civil defense agency. “The organizers had to anticipate that this could happen.”

Velez said 50 civil defense volunteers are working to move the most severely wounded of the 322 injured spectators from the arena to a hospital in the city. Firefighters and police also helped. The local health system sent a “red warning” to the community.

On Twitter, Colombian President Iván Duque expressed concern for the victims and called for an urgent investigation.

A 14-month-old baby was among the dead. More than twenty children were injured, and the rest went missing because they were next to their parents in the bull arena when the construction gave way, Velež said. According to Mayor Juan Carlos Tamay Salas, there were about 800 people in the eight stands involved.

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The incident reminded me of something similar corralejas disaster in the Caribbean city of Sincelejo. More than 500 people were killed and more than 2,000 were injured in 1980 when makeshift stands collapsed.

“This has already happened in Sinceley,” tweeted newly elected President Gustavo Petro, who will take office in August. “I ask local authorities to refrain from approving more spectacles with the death of persons or animals.”

As mayor of Bogotá, Petro provoked outrage when he banned bullfighting. He seemed ready on Sunday to fight the same battle nationally.

After witnessing the disaster on Sunday, Ortiz said: “I think this is the end for corralejas in El Espinal. ”

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