Giant spiders have netted a web of fear over a small village in northeast India, with two people, one of them child, reportedly killed by their poison.
The hairy monsters, locals say, attacked them out of the blue during a local festival. Witnesses recall that swarms of eight-legged insects “suddenly descended from nowhere and started biting people.”
“The festive mood turned into panic,” local resident Jintu Gogoi told the Times of India. “People bumped into each other and tripped over empty benches trying to escape.”
The residents rushed to the local hospital. A middle-aged man and a teenage boy died right away, despite treatment by doctors.
Dozens of villagers suffered strong pain, nausea, and shock. One of the locals told The Times of India that after the bite his finger was black and swollen.
The villagers are now monitoring their mud-and-thatch huts round-the-clock. The spiders have not yet been identified so doctors cannot use anti-venom in treating bite victims. Scientists say the spiders resemble a previously unknown species of tarantula.
Officials advised locals to stay indoors and are considering spraying the town with insecticide.
Health officials, meanwhile, insist that people died rather due to improper medical treatment than because of the spiders’ poison.
Local witch doctors, they say, used razor blades to drain the wounds which triggered infection. Another seven people, timely treated by antibiotics, survived, Dr. Anil Phapowali at the local Sadiya town hospital told AP.
Other researchers doubt the victims were actually bitten by “monster spiders.” The bodies of both the people who died were traditionally cremated, so an autopsy was impossible. The scientist also pointed out the venom of tarantulas indigenous to the region is not fatal.