At least three people died and eight were injured Saturday when an apparent drunk driver ran over 12 people competing in an "ultramarathon" in support of the Chilean Telethon.

Popular television host and creator of this event that helps the disabled, Mario Kreustberger, better known as "Don Francisco," interrupted the broadcast to break the news.

He said that three people died at the scene of the accident while another eight athletes were injured, of whom six were hospitalized in serious condition at different medical centers.

According to police, those suffering the worst injuries were identified as Dulio Renzo de Lapeyra Palma and Mauricio Jorge Sepulveda Mardones, who were taken to the emergency room of Posta Central, the largest public medical center in Santiago, for treatment of bone fractures.

The Chilean Telethon kicked off its charity marathon Friday night with the goal of collecting 22 billion pesos (some $46 million) for children with disabilities, in a 27-hour television broadcast without interruptions.

The project, which began in 1978 and currently has 11 institutes in all parts of Chile with another three under construction, cares for some 26,000 children and adolescents and receives around 3,000 new patients every year. EFE