“There are four people dead at the moment. Two women, an adult man and a minor,” Jose Ricardo Orozco, governor of the department of Tolima, where the accident site is El Espinal, said on local radio.

Hospitals in the region have treated some 322 injured, four of whom are still in intensive care units, said Martha Palacios, secretary of health for the department of Tolima.

The accident took place during a local bullfighting show, a kind of popular festival during which the public descends into the arena to face oxen and small bulls.

A whole section of the three-storey wooden bleachers, crowded with spectators, collapsed, throwing dozens of people to the ground, according to spectacular drone images recovered by AFP.

“We are still waiting to see how many people are under the rubble, we don’t know how many. As you can see in the videos, almost the whole wing was filled with people and it collapsed,” he told the same radio station Major Luis Fernando Vélez, director of the Civil Protection Department of Tolima.

Another amateur video shows the public trying to extricate themselves from the debris of wood and sheet metal while a bull continues to prowl the arena.

The accident happened at the Gilberto Charry bullring during the holiday weekend where the San Pedro fiestas, the most popular in the region, are celebrated.

“We are going to ask for an investigation into the facts (…). Solidarity with the families of the victims”, declared on Twitter the president Ivan Duque.

Governor Orozco warned that he would ask for “the suspension of all these types of festivities”, saying that these events “attack on the life” of animals and encourage “their mistreatment”.

The day before, several people had been injured by bulls during the same festival in El Espinal, a town of some 78,000 inhabitants located 150 kilometers southwest of Bogota.

The new president Gustavo Petro, elected last weekend and who will take office at the beginning of August, has added his voice to the appeal of the local governor.

“I ask the town halls to no longer authorize shows involving the death of people or animals,” he commented on Twitter, recalling in passing the death of hundreds of people in the collapse of another arena in the municipality of Sincelejo (north) in 1980.

As Mayor of Bogota (2012-2015), Petro ended bullfighting at La Santamaría, the capital’s iconic bullring.

Colombian justice punishes the mistreatment of animals, but practices such as bullfighting and cockfighting still take place as cultural events.