Stand collapses during bullfight in central El Espina municipality, leaving at least five people dead and over 300 injured, officials say.

Many people are still buried in the debris, local officials report.
Many people are still buried in the debris, local officials report. (AFP)

At least five people have been killed and more than 300 injured when the grandstand at a bullring in Colombia collapsed during a popular event at which members of the public face off with small bulls, officials said.

The dead include "two women, a man and a child," the governor of Tolima department, Jose Ricardo Orozco, told local radio on Sunday after the incident in the central city of El Espinal.

Hospitals in the region reported having treating about 322 injured people, four of whom are in intensive care, Tolima Health Secretary Martha Palacios said.

Several local media outlets reported 500 injuries after a full three-story section of wooden stands filled with spectators collapsed, throwing dozens of people to the ground, according to images broadcast on social media.

Local civil defence official Luis Fernando Velez said they did not know how many people were still buried in the debris, but noted that the section of stands was full when it collapsed.

"We will request an investigation of the facts about what happened," Colombia's outgoing President Ivan Duque said on Twitter, expressing his solidarity with the families of those killed and hurt.

Corralejas

The event was part of celebrations surrounding the San Pedro festival, the most popular in the region.

Orozco said the departmental government would move to ban the so-called "corralejas" in which local residents try their luck in the ring, saying they were dangerous and promoted animal abuse.

On Saturday, several people were injured in accidents at the corralejas in El Espinal, which is home to about 78,000 people, and is located about 150 kilometeres from the capital Bogota.

President-Elect Gustavo Petro, who will take office on August 7, joined Orozco in calling for the amateur bullfights to be banned.

When he served as mayor of Bogota, the leftist Petro put a stop to bullfights in the city's signature bullring, La Santamaria.

While animal abuse is a crime in Colombia, bullfights and cock fights are protected because of the cultural history behind them.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies