Officials say colonies of giant biting spiders have attacked villagers and sparked panic in remote northeast India. But they say locals' attempts to treat the painful swelling caused by the bites may be more dangerous than the spiders themselves.
Two bite victims have died in Tinsukia district. Authorities say it is unclear whether they died from venom or from treatment by witch doctors who cut them with razor blades to drain the wounds. No autopsies were conducted before the victims were cremated.
Sadiya town hospital doctors say another seven victims were given antibiotics after they tried to drain their wounds.
Ecologist L.R. Saikia at Assam's Dibrugarh University says the hairy spiders may be a newly discovered tarantula species.