Ivan Fandino Bull Fight
Spanish matador Ivan Fandino launches into his routine as he faces off against a bull to provoke it to charge, during a fight in Pamplona, Spain, last year. Spain's most well known bullfighter was killed in action in France on Sunday.Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Spain's most famous matador Ivan Fandino died at a bullfighting event in France on Sunday, after the five-year-old Baltasar Iban pedigree bull named Burp he was taking on charged him fatally after Fandino's feet became entangled in the cape material.

The prize bullfighter tripped on his cape during the routine at the Corrida des Fetes in southwestern Aire-sur-l'Asdour in France. Fandino moved quickly to disentangle himself, but the rampaging bull charged and threw him into the air, before plunging its horn into his lung, and causing severe injuries to his kidneys.

He was quickly attended to in the bullring's surgery where he suffered a heart attack during an emergency operation. Fandino recovered briefly, but suffered a second cardiac arrest in the ambulance. On arrival at hospital, doctors declared him dead.

The matador, who had a wife and a daughter, came from Spain's Basque region and fought hundreds of bulls during his career in the controversial bloodsport.

The bloody contest requires humans to publicly subdue – either by maiming or killing – a bull.

The UK's Daily Mail quoted a member of the crowd as saying, "Ivan was caught by surprise and suffered the consequences. People were cheering to begin with, thinking everything was under control. Then we realised that Ivan was very badly hurt, and he was rushed away by other matadors, supported by paramedics."

Horrific photos on social media showed Fandino being tossed into the air by the enraged animal, which also suffered brutal wounds in the ring.

The Independent newspaper said that Juan del Alamo, the matador who killed the bull which gored Fandino, told cameras at the scene, "I have no words; I can't believe it. He was in a lot of pain from the goring, but nobody expected it to end up like this. None of us understand how it could have happened; it was all so fast. The bull knocked him down with its hindquarters and he fell face down."

Fandino's wife Cayetana was on Sunday with her baby daughter, Mara, as she arranged to have her husband's body returned to the family home in Orduna, south of Bilbao on Spain's northern coast, for a funeral service, the Daily Mail said.

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The last Spanish bullfighter who died due to a goring in the ring was Victor Barrio, who was killed at the age of 29 after being gored in the bullring in Teruel on July 9, 2016.

Barrio's untimely death prompted strong reactions from animal rights supporters calling for a ban on the bloodsport.

Tributes to Fandino flooded in on social networking sites, with rancher Victorino Martin tweeting: "Our friend and great bullfighter Ivan Fandino dies in France. A great loss for the world of bullfighting. We are dismayed."

Other tweets, mostly from opponents of Spain's national sport, were not as appreciative.