A young Spaniard was gored to death yesterday as he ran with the bulls on the chaotic fourth day of Pamplona's annual fiesta.
The death of Daniel Jimeno Romero, 27, in the first fatal goring in 14 years, cast a pall of tragedy over what has become in recent years a joyful, if alcohol-fuelled, celebration.
Mr Jimeno, from Alcala de Henares near Madrid, was gored by a bull that stumbled and got separated from the herd of six being driven through the streets. Mr Jimeno received first aid at the scene, and photographs showed him lying on a stretcher moments after the goring, his face and neck stained with blood.
He was taken to hospital but died within an hour. "His wounds were appalling," said a surgeon at the hospital. "We could do nothing for him; the horn broke everything it encountered." Mr Jimeno's girlfriend and his mother, who were also at the fiesta, identified him at the hospital. The family have a house in Pamplona, in north-eastern Spain.
Dramatic television footage showed the disoriented bull blundering about before charging into a group of runners. The bull, named as Capuchino, then flipped a man wearing a green shirt off his feet, and tossed and gored him as he cowered on the ground. Herders tried to distract the beast by pulling its tail and hitting it with sticks.
It was the most dangerous run so far this year in Spain's best-known festival which exploded into frenetic action on Monday. The last three runs were clean and straightforward, with no serious injuries. The three concluding days of the week-long fiesta – over this weekend – are usually the most dangerous, but authorities gave no sign of calling a halt following yesterday's death.
Eleven runners were injured, including a 61-year-old American treated in intensive care for a serious chest injury. Three were gored, two in the thigh and one, a 24-year-old Argentinian man, in the chest. Six people suffered minor injuries, mostly bumps and bruises from falling over on the cobblestones, or being trampled by the stampeding hooves.
A 22-year-old American man, Matthew Tassio, was the last man to be fatally gored during Pamplona's bull running, in 1995. In 2003, a local man, Fermin Etxeberri, 63, was trampled in the head and died after spending months in a coma. Last year a young Irishman fell to his death from the city walls. Yesterday's fatality raises to 15 the death toll since 1922.
Hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts from around the world converge on Pamplona's week-long party, often drinking all night before running with the bulls. Police clear the route 30 minutes before the bulls are set loose, and eject anyone who looks drunk, with visitors being warned not to drink before running. But the heartstopping sprint is a major national event, as well as an international spectacle, broadcast live every morning with a commentary as expert and breathless as for the Grand National.
The tradition began when herdsmen drove bulls to the ring early in the morning for the daily bullfight during the fiesta of San Fermin, an eighth-century martyr beheaded for preaching Christianity in a Muslim land. Locals joined in, running with the beasts, testing their bravery as they dodged the deadly horns and hooves,
The fiesta was celebrated by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, although the American writer was more interested in the bullfights later in the day when bulls driven across town at dawn faced death in the afternoon. But he caught the euphoric atmosphere: "Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. It seemed out of place to think of consequences during the fiesta."Reuse content