Bulls gore two in Spain's San Fermin festival, but runners remain hooked

PAMPLONA (AFP) - Half-tonne fighting bulls gored two men and sent another five to hospital Thursday as they thundered down narrow, dew-slicked streets packed with thrill seekers in Spain's northern city of Pamplona.

Right at the start of the panicky, early morning bull run in Spain's San Fermin festival, one black bull ran ahead of the rest of the pack of six fighting bulls and six steers from the Garcigrande ranch.

The huge black bull flipped one runner high into the air and then careened into a pack of runners cowering on the pavement, toppling them over.

The two goring victims, both from the local Navarra region - a 46-year-old man pierced in the right thigh and a 34-year-old man speared in the left thigh - were taken to hospital for treatment, organisers said.

Neither were considered to be seriously hurt in the run, the fourth of eight daily, adrenaline-charged dashes through Pamplona's cobbled streets. The runs are the main feature of the July 6-14 fiesta, which dates back to the Middle Ages.

Emergency workers took another five people to hospital with bruises, none of whom were judged to be in a serious condition, organisers said.

The fighting bulls carved open a narrow path through fleeing daredevils dressed in white with red kerchiefs as they tore along the twisting 848.6-metre course to the bull ring in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

The animals will face matadors and death in the afternoon in the Pamplona ring.

"This bull run was so fast I hardly realised it," said David Rubio Blazquez, a 33-year-old factory worker from Villareal in eastern Spain who has been running with the Pamplona bulls for seven years.

"The worst thing is other people. They push you. They grab you. They are almost more dangerous than the bulls," said 27-year-old insurance salesman Luis Meldero, who lives near Madrid.

The San Fermin festival, a heady nine-day mix of partying and adrenaline-chasing, draws hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to Pamplona, a city of around 300,000.

"It is my first time running in the bull run and I am hooked," said 24-year-old Santi Echeverria, unemployed, from the southern Spanish city of Seville.

"I loved it. Tomorrow I am doing it again," said Echeverria, wearing a Real Madrid football shirt as he took part in the run with two friends.

Fifteen people have been killed in the bull runs since records began in 1911. The most recent death occurred five years ago when a Spanish man was gored.

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