DOZENS of people were injured today in a horrific pile-up at an infamous Spanish bull-running festival.
Runners taking part in the San Fermin festival in Pamplona were trampled on in a massive crush as the animals they were fleeing from tried to climb over them from behind.
A Spanish man was said be “very gravely ill” with serious internal injuries after his chest was crushed.
Four others in a serious condition include an Irish national who was also crushed and treated for asphyxia, according to reports.
The terrifying pile-up — which comes after three people were badly gored in Friday’s bull run — was broadcast live on Spanish TV.
Dramatic pictures showed medics carrying one apparently unconscious victim away from the crush.
It happened as hundreds of runners tried to squeeze through the narrow entrance to the bullring after a mad dash through the cobbled streets of Pamplona.
Some people at the front tripped, then spectators watched in horror as ten half-ton bulls ploughed into the back of a huge scrum of up to 200 people who were piled on top of one another.
In the agonising 60 seconds that followed, runners and bulls trapped side by side in the crush tried to climb over each other to safety.
Others reaching the pile-up attempted to save themselves by running back the way they had come — into the path of other runners and oncoming bulls that were yet to finish the course.
The minute-long drama only ended when workers opened an entrance to an alley running round the bull ring which the bullfighters traditionally use as a refuge.
The injured were treated at a mobile clinic and at least 23 were taken to hospital.
One, a 19-year-old Spaniard suffering from “traumatic asphyxia” caused by crush injuries to his chest, was described as “very serious”. He was breathing with the help of a ventilator today.
The Irishman, whose name and age were not revealed, was also being treated for asphyxia caused by crush injuries.
A spokesman for Navarra Hospital in Pamplona described his condition as “serious but less serious than the Spaniard’s”.
Several other people were still being treated at the bull ring.
One spectator suffered a heart attack caused by the stress of seeing the crush.
Authorities said two other people were gored — one on the armpit and one in the buttocks — and several suffered trip injuries over the half-mile course.
Pamplona’s centuries-old San Fermin festival, the biggest in Spain, attacts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
It sees thousands of thrill-seekers packing into the narrow streets at 8am each day as a herd of bulls is released from a pen at the top of the course.
After each morning run, the animals are killed in an afternoon bullfight.
Hundreds of runners are injured every year — mostly from tripping or being gored — and 15 have died since records began in 1911.
The most recent death was in 2009 when 27-year-old Daniel Jimeno, from Madrid, was gored in the neck by a bull called Capuchino.
The event has become increasingly popular with foreigners, who join the locals by staying up all night drinking and partying before taking part.
Anyone over 18 — providing they do not appear drunk and are wearing the right footwear — is allowed to participate.