At least four people died and about 30 were seriously injured in the collapse of the bleachers of a bullring on Sunday in a town in central Colombia, local authorities said.
“There are four people dead at the moment. Two women, an adult man and a minor,” said Jose Ricardo Orozco, governor of the department of Tolima, on local radio.
The accident took place in the locality of Espinal, during a local bullfighting show, a kind of popular festival during which the public descends into the arena to face oxen and small bulls.
A whole section of the three-storey wooden bleachers, crowded with spectators, collapsed, throwing dozens of people to the ground, according to spectacular drone images recovered by AFP.
"More or less 30 people are seriously injured (...) it's a preliminary report, they are still in the process of transferring the injured," added the governor.
“We are still waiting to see how many people are under the rubble, we don't know how many. As you can see in the videos, almost the whole wing was full of people and it collapsed,” Major Luis Fernando Vélez, director of the Tolima Civil Protection Department, told the same radio station.
Another amateur video shows the public trying to escape the debris of wood and sheet metal while a bull continues to prowl the arena.
The accident happened at the Gilberto Charry bullring during the holiday weekend where the San Pedro fiestas, the most popular in the region, are celebrated.
"We are going to ask for an investigation into the facts (...). Solidarity with the families of the victims,” President Ivan Duque said on Twitter.
Governor Orozco has warned that he will ask for "the suspension of all these types of festivities", saying that these events "attack on the life" of animals and encourage "their mistreatment".
The day before, several people had been injured by bulls during the same festival in El Espinal, a town of some 78,000 inhabitants located 150 kilometers southwest of Bogota.
The new president Gustavo Petro, elected last weekend and who will take office at the beginning of August, has added his voice to the appeal of the local governor.
"I ask town halls to no longer authorize shows involving the death of people or animals," he reacted on Twitter, recalling in passing the death of hundreds of people in the collapse of another arena in the municipality of Sincelejo (north) in 1980.
As Mayor of Bogota (2012-2015), Petro ended bullfighting at La Santamaría, the capital's iconic bullring.
Colombian justice punishes the mistreatment of animals, but practices such as bullfighting and cockfighting still take place as cultural events.