Three dead in 24 hours from goring incidents at Spanish bull run festivals

Click to play video: '5 injured during opening of the running of the bulls'
5 injured during opening of the running of the bulls
At least five people have been injured in the opening bull run of this year's San Fermin festival in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona on Sunday – Jul 7, 2019

In the span of a day, three men have died from wounds they sustained while participating in bull-running festivals in eastern Spain.

Bull-running festivals, or bous al carrer, see groups of people run in front of one or more fighting bulls as they charge through towns and are a long-standing Spanish tradition in the Valencia region, with many towns holding such events each year.

The controversial tradition has long faced criticism from animal rights groups who argue that the practice is dangerous both for the animals and the public.

The three men who died had all been receiving treatment in Valencia hospitals after being badly injured during events in the past two weeks.

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In Picassent, a suburb south of the city of Valencia, a 56-year-old man was tossed in the air by a bull and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The BBC reports that he had been standing behind a block in the middle of the street when he was gored by the bull.

The man, who was a local resident of the town, died on Tuesday after spending nine days in intensive care for severe head trauma. Picassent held a day of mourning on Wednesday to commemorate his death.

Just north of the city of Valencia, in the suburb of Meliana, a man in his 50s also died on Tuesday after his lung was pierced by a bull.

The mayor of Meliana made a statement saying that accidents are a risk people must take to participate in the festivities.

One day prior, on Monday, a 64-year-old French tourist died after being gored by a bull in a town near Alicante. He had been in intensive care since the accident occurred on July 8, Al Jazeera reported.

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Goring incidents are not uncommon in bull-running festivals, with Reuters reporting that 478 people have been injured so far in bull-running events this year alone.

Twenty people have died in the Valencia region in the past eight years from bull-running accidents.

Spain’s famous San Fermin running of the bulls in Pamplona returned this year after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, and 35 people were injured in this year’s festivities.

On Wednesday, Spanish animals rights group PACMA called, once again, for the prohibition of bull-running festivals, saying it was a “cruel and dangerous” tradition.

Bull-running events usually end with the bovines being killed in the bullring.

The bull-running season, however, brings many economic benefits to the region of Valencia — the over 10,000 bull-running events per year created more than 3,000 jobs and brought in around 300 million euros (or about $400 million) for the local economy, citing a 2019 study.

— With files from Reuters

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