PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) — An American and two Spaniards were gored Friday during a danger-filled sixth bull run of Spain’s San Fermin festival, with one loose bull causing panic in the packed streets of the city of Pamplona.
Tension soared when one of the animals charged a 31-year-old Spaniard, Diego Miralles, and tossed him on the ground with its horns for almost 30 seconds as fellow runners tried to pull it away by its tail. The man clung to one of the horns as screams were heard all around.
Helpers eventually dragged the victim to safety by his feet.
The regional government of Navarra said one American and two Spaniards were gored in the run, while another American and two Spaniards were also taken to city hospitals for other injuries suffered in falls and trampling during the frenzied event.
The local government press office identified the gored American as Patrick Ekols, 20, but didn’t give his hometown.
Navarra Hospital chief Javier Sesma said doctors removed Ekols’ spleen after it was found that the bull’s horn had gone through the abdominal cavity and punctured the non-vital, blood-filtering organ. He said the young man was in stable condition.
Sesma said the Spaniard who had been pinned to the ground was gored three times; in the groin, knee and thigh.
“The injuries are not as serious as one would have expected on seeing the televised footage,” said Sesma.
None of the six taken to the hospital was said to be in serious condition.
Hospital authorities initially said four people were gored, but the regional government revised that down to three.
The gorings were the first of this year’s runs, during which thousands of thrill-seekers race daily with the bulls along a 930-yard (850-meter) route from a holding pen to the city bull ring.
Friday’s event lasted just under five minutes, roughly double the normal length. Longer runs normally occur when some of the bulls get separated from the pack and become disoriented and more dangerous.
The black bull that caused the most panic Friday made several more attempts to charge people before he was eventually guided along the narrow streets to join the rest of the pack in the pen of the packed bull ring.
The nationally televised 8 a.m. runs are the highlight of the nine-day street partying festival made world famous with the 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises.”
The bulls that take part each morning are invariably killed by matadors in evening bull fights, and their meat is served up in Pamplona’s restaurants.
Dozens of people are injured each year in the “encierros,” as the runs are called in Spanish. Most get hurt after tripping and falling in the rush.
The fighting bulls used in the centuries-old fiesta can weigh up to at 1,380 pounds (625 kilograms) and have killed 15 people since record-keeping began in 1924.
Ciaran Giles contributed to this report from Madrid.