Pamplona — Three men were gored on Sunday during the eighth and final bull run of Spain’s San Fermin festival, bringing to eight the total number of daredevils injured during the 2019 fiesta.
Among those taken to hospital after being injured by a bull’s horns was an American who was wounded in the neck while taking a selfie.
In the last run, two Australians aged 27 and 30, as well as a 25-year-old Spaniard from Madrid were gored by the half-ton fighting bull, “Rabonero”, regional health authorities said.
The three men suffered injuries to the armpit, arm and leg from the bull's horns. Another two men were taken to hospital with bruises.
During Sunday's run in the northern city of Pamplona, Rabonero, the heaviest of the six bulls used in the event, became separated from the pack moments into the run and began charging people in its way. Isolated bulls are more likely to get disoriented and start charging at people.
The bulls from the Miura ranch in the southwestern province of Seville completed the 848.6m course from a holding pen to the city bull ring in two minutes and 45 seconds.
Each morning from July 7 to 14, hundreds of daredevils, many wearing traditional white shirts with red scarves tied around their necks, tested their bravery by running ahead of a mob of bulls through the course set up in the narrow, winding streets of the medieval city.
The bulls face almost certain death in afternoon bullfights, and earlier in July animal-rights activists staged a “die-in” protest in the streets of the city to protest against the tradition.
At the end of the festival's first run, a bull ran over and sunk one of its horns deep in the neck of a 46-year-old American from San Francisco, Jaime Alvarez, narrowly missing key arteries. He was injured as he was trying to take a video-selfie with his mobile phone.
“It was like a truck or car just hitting me in the side of the head. I put my hand on my neck and I saw blood,” he told US television from a Pamplona hospital.
His wife had asked him not to take part in the bull run, he added. He was released from hospital two days later.
Another 23-year-old American from Kentucky and 40-year-old Spaniard were also gored that day.
In addition to the eight men who were gored, another 27 people were taken to hospital for broken bones and bruises suffered during the bull runs. About 500 more people were treated at the scene for more minor injuries, according to the Red Cross.
The festival dates back to medieval times and was immortalised in Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. It claims scores of casualties every year though last year just two men were gored.
Though the runs are over, the festival’s closing ceremony takes place at midnight Sunday.
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 last death was in 2009 when a bull gored a 27-year-old Spaniard in the neck, heart and lungs.