MADRID • A Spanish bullfighter was gored to death in front of horrified spectators at a corrida, the first to be killed in the ring in more than three decades.
Mr Victor Barrio, 29, was struck in the chest by the massive bull which tossed him in the air before he fell to the ground, where he lay motionless after the graphic attack that was aired live on television on Saturday.
Other matadors rushed to the rescue, trying to distract the 500kg bull before carrying Mr Barrio from the ring in the eastern town of Teruel.
Mr Barrio, who made his corrida, or bullfighting, debut in 2008 and toured rings all over the country, was pronounced dead at the scene, Tauroemocion, the organiser of the bullfight, said.
Spanish President Mariano Rajoy Brey sent his sympathies after the death. "My condolences to the family and colleagues of Victor Barrio, bullfighter who died in Teruel. Rest in peace," he wrote on Twitter.
The Plaza de Las Ventas bullfighting ring in Madrid also paid tribute to Barrio on Twitter.
"Distressed and affected. Rest in peace, Victor Barrio. All of us send our condolences to his team and to his family and friends," it posted on its feed along with photos of the slain bullfighter.
The last bullfighter to be killed in the ring was in 1985, according to Spanish media, when 21-year- old rising star Jose "El Yiyo" Cubero died after being gored through the heart.
Last year, prominent Spanish bullfighter Francisco "Paquirri" Rivera Ordonez was badly injured after being gored in the groin by a bull. His father was gored to death in Andalusia in 1984.
Yesterday, two more Spanish men were gored. One of them received a 12cm gash to his neck while the other was gored in his armpit, the local government said on its website. Both are listed in serious condition in hospital.
Three other Spanish men suffered bruises and cuts as the bulls trampled and knocked over runners during the fourth bull run of the week-long San Fermin festival, which was broadcast live on Spanish television.
A total of 11 men have been gored in the four bull runs held so far this year in Pamplona, including three Americans, a Japanese, an Indian, a Canadian and a South African.
All but one of the victims of the gorings remain in hospital.
The Sunday bull run is usually one of the most crowded of the festival, which was immortalised in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises.
The daily runs see people dashing with six bulls along a winding, 850m course through narrow streets to the city's bull ring, where the animals are killed by matadors in an afternoon bullfight. The festival ends on Thursday.
Bullfighting and related events have come under fire in recent years by animal rights activists who denounce the sport as cruel and dangerous.
The bullfight - which is actually a highly ritualised performance with no element of competition - usually concludes with the killing of the bull by a single sword thrust by the matador. Only on rare occasions, where both bull and matador perform exceptionally well, are the bulls spared.
Several regions or cities have put a stop to bullfighting or annual festivals with bull running over the years. Last month, animal rights party Pacma won a record number of votes in the general election. The group has long campaigned for an end to bullfighting in a country increasingly torn between animal rights activists who support abolition and others who want to keep an age-old tradition going.
According to official figures, 1,868 bull-related events were held in Spain in 2014. Combined, they attracted six million spectators in a country of 47 million residents, according to ANOET, the national organisation that arranges such events, which said the "bull business" brings in €3.5 billion (S$5.2 billion) annually.