Pamplona cracks down on bull run daredevils who try to snap the action

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 9:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 9:04pm


Spanish authorities are cracking down on daredevils who shoot camera footage even as they risk their lives by running with half-tonne fighting bulls at the annual San Fermin festival.

Police routinely stop people carrying cameras from taking part in the electrifying early morning runs, in which crowds of people are chased by six fighting bulls and six steers through the streets of the northern city of Pamplona.

Those caught using a recording device during a bull run can be slapped with a fine ranging from €600 (HK$6,335) to €60,000, depending on the level of danger they are deemed to have provoked. Police have fined "six or seven people" so far this year for filming during a bull run at the week-long festival, including a British man who got a €650 fine on Tuesday, said Pamplona city councillor Gabriel Viedma, who is responsible for security.

"Bringing a camera to film or take a picture produces behaviours that generate danger. People stop running to take a picture or to let the bulls go by," he said.

Despite the police measures, each day dozens of people can be seen carrying digital cameras - sometimes on a mast - and camera-equipped smartphones as they take part in the daily early morning bull runs, a highlight of the fiesta which dates back to the Middle Ages.

Last year, a 20-year-old American student, Patrick Eccles, who brought a cameraphone to a bull run, was gored in the stomach and later had to have his spleen removed.

Pictures showed him being pierced by a bull's horn as he screamed in pain, with one hand grasping one of the bull's horns and the other hand clutching a black cameraphone.

"When I started out it was rare to see. Now there are cameras everywhere," said American lawyer Peter Mulligan, who has attended the festival to run with the bulls for the last 10 years.

Fifteen people have been killed since records started in 1911, most recently in 2009 when a 27-year-old Spanish man was gored in the neck, heart and lungs.

Dozens of people are injured each year. Most injuries are not caused by bull horns, but by runners falling, or being knocked over or trampled by the animals.