Drivers and commuters could only watch in despair as a horse pulling a carriage collapsed in the sweltering heat in Pieta on Saturday afternoon. 

According to a witness, the horse also had a bleeding leg when the incident happened around 4pm, just past the Porte des Bombes tunnel. It is not known whether the animal survived the ordeal. 

"We were in traffic and couldn't stop for long as there was no side parking. At that moment it didn't seem that the poor horse was going to stand anywhere soon," Jop Houtman Camara told Times of Malta.

"We witnessed this exhausted poor horse laying on the ground today. The driver tried to force the horse to stand up but it couldn't. It was probably dehydrated after standing it the burning sun for hours without water." 

The horse owner was pictured trying to push the carriage away from the animal. Temperatures in Malta on Saturday climbed up to 38 degrees as a result of heat stress index.

The witness urged tourists to desist from riding horse-drawn carriages in the stifling heat and called for the "cruel practice" to stop. 

Animal Liberation Malta is advocating for a ban on horse-drawn carriages used as tourist attractions in Malta.

A protest to ban horse carriages is being organised in Valletta on Saturday, August 11 at 12.30pm.

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