An as-yet unidentified species of tarantula-like spiders have invaded a remote village in India, biting a number of people and killing two.
Most of the inhabitants of Chaulkhowa Nagaon village had been to a Bihu function on the evening the invasion began. When the program drew to a close, swarms of spiders suddenly descended from nowhere and started biting people. The festive mood soon turned into one of panic with people bumping into each other and tripping over empty benches in a frantic bid to escape. One of the bitten victims was a man named Jintu Gogoi’.
From the Times of India:
It all sounded like a scene from a Hollywood horror flick, but as Jintu showed his blackened, swollen finger to reporters, it became clear that it was not some elaborate hoax created by some mischief-monger, it was something that happened for real. But the panic it triggered could have been certainly avoided had there been enough awareness among laymen and mandarins about arachnids.
Jintu spent a day at the Sadiya Civil Hospital after he complained of excruciating pain and nausea. When he returned home, he had more terrifying stories to tell. Terror was still writ large on his face even two weeks after the incident, but he thanked his stars for being alive. His neighbour,
Purnakanta Buragohain, was not that lucky. He died in the hospital after a spider allegedly bit him.
The events that unfolded in the next few days left everyone baffled. Scores of people arrived in the Sadiya civil hospital with spider bites, some even carrying their tormentors to the hospital. Amid all this, another person, this time a schoolboy, died of an alleged spider bite. And the district administration panicked. They sounded an alert across Tinsukia district and asked people to stay indoors at night-the time the unknown critters would swarm all over the place. They talked about fogging the place with DDT to kill the arachnids but couldn’t find any effective solution. What’s worse: they even let the two bodies to be cremated without conducting any autopsy. Yet the spider menace continued. None had any answer as to what kind of a spider it was and how it made such a sudden appearance.
Additional information from AFP:
“Initially we thought it was a prank, but later on we saw swarms of this peculiar kind of spider biting people,” Ranjit Das, a community elder in the town of Sadiya in the northeastern state of Assam, told AFP by telephone.
Authorities have swung into action by fogging and spraying insecticides in the area, 600 kilometres (370 miles) east of Assam’s main city of Guwahati, and a team of scientists have been dispatched to investigate.
“We visited the spot and found it akin to the tarantula, but we are still not sure what this particular species is,” said L.R. Saikia, a scientist from the department of life science of Dibrugarh University in Assam.
“It appears to be an aggressive spider with its fangs more powerful than the normal variety of house spiders,” he told AFP.