A woman watching the Dakar Rally was killed when a vehicle taking part in the race veered off the course and hit her during the opening stage on Saturday.

The 4x4 was driven by Mirco Schultis and partner Ulrich Leardi.

Norberto Brusa, a spokesman for Rio Cuarto Hospital, said Natalia Sonia Gallardo, aged 28, died from injuries suffered in the crash. Brusa said four other people were injured, but the extent of the injuries were not immediately available.

The opening stage was between Colon and Cordoba, northwest of the Argentina capital Buenos Aires.

A witness to the accident told the television station TN that fans were standing outside a secure area reserved for spectators.

“There was no place and the police did not stop people,” said the witness, identified as Gaston Harriague. “The fields around there are all private. They are not permitted places.”