One more American and a Brit injured in Spain’s Pamplona bull run

Half-tonne fighting bulls knocked over thrill-seekers Tuesday in a fast, adrenaline-fuelled chase through the winding streets of Pamplona in northern Spain that sent an American and a Briton to hospital.

One more American and a Brit injured in Spain's Pamplona bull run
Photo: AFP

There were no gorings but a 49-year-old British man fractured his ankle, requiring surgery, and a 42-year-old man from Chicago suffered a head injury in a fall although he was expected to be discharged from hospital later on Tuesday, regional health officials said.

Six bulls and six steers that keep the herd together, charged through the narrow, cobbled streets of the city, clearing a path through a sea of hundreds of runners mostly dressed in white with red handkerchiefs around their necks in the third bull run of the famed San Fermin festival.

The bulls from the Jose Escolar Gil ranch in the central province of Avila completed the 848.6-metre (928-yard) course from a holding pen to the city bull ring in two minutes and 13 seconds, the fastest run so far this year. They were to be killed in bullfights later Tuesday.

Some people sought safety by crowding close to the walls of the winding route but others dared to touch the rear of the bulls or to race a few steps in front of the sharp horns.

Two Americans and a Spaniard were on Sunday gored in the first run, which is usually the most crowded of the festival. All three remain in hospital.

People from around the world flock to the city of 200,000 residents to test their bravery and enjoy the festival?s mix of round-the-clock parties, religious processions and concerts.

Sixteen people have been killed in the bull runs since records started in 1911.

The most recent death took place in 2009 when a bull gored a 27-year-old Spaniard in the neck, heart and lungs.

The nine-day fiesta, which dates back to medieval times and was immortalised in Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway?s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises”, ends on July 14.

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Running of the bulls: Pamplona’s San Fermin cancelled over coronavirus

Spain’s most famous running of the bulls fiesta has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus.

Running of the bulls: Pamplona's San Fermin cancelled over coronavirus
Social distancing just wouln´t be possible at San Fermin. Photo: AFP

San Fermin is celebrated each July in the northern city of Pamplona, Navarra, but the fiesta which draws crowds of a million revellers will not be taking place this summer.

Pamplona’s city council officially announced news of the cancellation of the event on Tuesday, confirming what many regular festival goers had suspected.

The festival, which kicks off on July 6th attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, who cram into the Navarran capital for the eight-day long non-stop party, which involves religious parades, concerts, bullfights as well as the daily ‘encierros’ or bull runs.

Each morning at 8am crowds of runners traditionally dressed in white with red pañuelos and sashes await the release of six Spanish fighting bulls and six steers, who race through the narrow cobbled streets to the bullring.

Crowds squeezed into the sqaure infront of the town hall for the chupinazo marking the start of the fiesta: Photo: AFP

Similar encierros take place in towns across the Basque region but Pamplona's San Fermin is the biggest and most famous after being immortalised in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises”.

“As expected as it was, it still leaves us deeply sad,” said acting mayor Ana Elizalde when announcing the inevitable news that the festival could not be carried out with social distancing measures in place.

She was unable to say whether it might be held at a later date, given the unpredictability of the coronavirus health crisis.

“It seems complicated to celebrate San Fermin (at all) this year, but we will wait to see how events evolve”, she said.

Photo: AFP

It is not the only time in its history that the fiesta has been cancelled. It was also suspended in 1937 and 1938 during the Spanish Civil War, and had to be cancelled a third time in 1978 after a student was shot during clashes between police and protesters calling for an independent Basque region. 

Deirdre Carney, an American now living in Spain who has has attended the fiesta since childhood, said: “The last time San Fermin was called off was the year I was born. My father was there and he and his friends were holed up in their hotel for a few days to avoid the rioting.

“That was 42 years ago, and it is completely shocking to the people of Navarra and everyone who loves the festival to have this happen again. Of course everyone understands why, and that there was no other choice, but we are nonetheless very saddened. The fiesta is a celebration of life and joy, so we will return next year and it will be even more meaningful than ever.”