Spiders create panic in remote Assam villages

Giant hairy spiders of an unidentified species but similar to the tarantula have created panic in the remote villages of Sadiya in upper Assam's Tinsukia district.

Residents of several villages, surrounded by dense jungles and Brahmaputra river, spotted the spiders about a month ago and claimed that two persons had died after being bitten by the giant hairy spider.

Eight others are in  Sadiya civil hospital after being bitten by the arachnids.

When contacted Sadiya sub-divisional officer Kishore Thakuria, however, said that it could not be ascertained that the two persons had died due to the spider bite as they were cremated before autopsies could be conducted.

Thakuria said an alert was sounded in the area and people were asked to take precautions like staying indoors at night.

Sadiya civil hospital superintendent Anil Phatowali said all those bit by the spiders first went to witch doctors, who cut open their wounds with razors, drained out blood and burnt it and that possibly making them ill.

A team of scientists led by Dibrugarh University head of the department of life sciences L R Saikia visited the area and collected specimens, which were yet to be identified.

"It is similar to the tarantula, but it could be a whole new species. As there are no arachnologists in the Northeast, it will take us a while to identify it", he said.

The hairy spider species is aggressive and some of the victims claimed that they latched onto them after biting and, therefore, needed to be dealt with very carefully.

The specimens have been sent to Indian Society of Arachnology at Amravati in Maharashtra for identification of the species, he added. 

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