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Bulls gore two in Spain's San Fermin festival

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

PAMPLONA, Spain: Half-tonne fighting bulls gored two men and sent another six to hospital on 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, a huge black bull ran ahead of the rest of the pack of six fighting bulls and six steers.

The 595-kilo black bull called Avenero, the biggest of the six, flipped one runner 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, the regional government of Navarra 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 six people to hospital, updated figures from the organisers showed.

They included a 54-year-old Pamplona man who fractured his right hip. He underwent surgery and was listed as being in serious condition.

The rest of the injured were taken to hospital with bruises, none of which were judged to be serious.

The fighting bulls from the Garcigrande ranch 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.

It was the first time that bulls from this ranch located in Alaraz near Salamanca in northwestern Spain have taken part in the San Fermin festival.

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.

Four Spaniards and one American have been gored so far this year in the festival, which was immortalised in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises".

The American, 32-year-old Chicago-based journalist and author Bill Hillman who co-wrote a survival guide for the bull running festival titled "Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona", was gored in the right thigh on Wednesday.

He underwent surgery and was "recovering favourably", regional health authorities said in a statement.

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