Breakaway bull causes havoc in Pamplona festival
PAMPLONA, Spain - Agece France-Presse
AP PhotoA huge, fighting bull that broke away from the pack caused havoc Sunday at Spain's Pamplona bull run, which left two people in hospital.
The 640-kilogramme (1,430-pound) beast, Navajito, sped ahead of a pack of six bulls charging through the northern city, where daredevils dressed in white with red neck scarves fought for space to escape the horns.
Two Spanish men were injured in the run: one 29-year-old suffered cuts and bruises to his face and a 35-year-old badly bruised his back, the regional Navarra government said.
At the outset, the bulls burst out of the holding pen and thundered down Pamplona's narrow, cobbled streets. Very quickly, Navajito broke ahead of the pack, a dangerous development, parting crowds of runners who cowered by the side or ran along with the bull, some even trying to touch its sides.
At the entrance to the bullring, with the rest of the pack chasing behind, the bull charged over another half a dozen men who tumbled over each other in a scramble to escape.
The bulls took just two minutes and 27 seconds to cover the 850-metre (2,800-foot) course.
"It was incredible. You really feel alive. Times goes by really quickly, you are so concentrated in staying ahead of the bulls," said Carlos Saiz, 27, from Madrid who like many others carried a rolled-up newspaper to try to touch the bulls.
People clung to street lights and sat on window ledges along the route to get a better view of the run, the centrepiece of the San Fermin festival, which wraps up on July 14.
Some wore colourful wigs or large plastic sunglasses as they swilled back sangria and beer from plastic cups.
Four men dressed as Elvis Presley, wearing matching white suit jackets decorated with rhinestones.
"The bulls raced by much faster than I expected," said 23-year-old Spaniard Victor Batres, who watched the run behind a wooden barrier near the city's bullring where the course ends.
"I could never take part in a run, I would be too scared." A 73-year-old man was gored in his left leg on Saturday during the first bull run of this year's festival. He suffered a 25-centimetre (10 inch) long gash and remains in hospital, according to the regional Navarra government.
Six others, including an Australian and a Japanese man, suffered cuts and bruises in slips along the route but were treated and released from the hospital on the same day.
Last year 20,500 people took part in the festival's eight bull runs, nearly half of them coming from abroad, mostly the United States, Australia and Britain.
Every year between 200 and 300 participants in bull runs are injured, around three percent seriously. Most are hurt after falling, but some are trampled or gored by the bulls despite increased safety measures.
Three years ago a bull gored a 27-year-old Spaniard to death, piercing his neck, heart and lungs with its horns in front of hordes of tourists.
Pamplona officials expect about half a million people will flock to the city of 200,000 residents during the festival, which dates back to medieval times.