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Scorpions hospitalise over 500 people during major storm in Egypt

Humans aren’t alone in trying to escape extreme weather caused by climate change – even the world’s most dangerous animals must look for refuge.

We all know by now that climate change is causing strange and powerful weather events around the globe. Humanity must come up with novel ways to deal with them as they continue to become more rampant and routine.

But just as these unpredictable storms force us inside our homes for safety, animals must seek out protection, too – and occasionally, this search for refuge results in humans coming face to face with extremely dangerous visitors.

This is what happened last week, when heavy rain, lightning, and thunderstorms engulfed Aswan, the largest city in southern Egypt.

As the unrelenting rainstorm triggered flash flooding, thousands of fat-tailed scorpions were swept from their desert burrows and forced to look for drier territory in mountainside villages.

After entering through cracks in the walls of mud-brick houses, the yellow 4-inch scorpions stung at least 500 people, causing them to be hospitalised.

The scorpion that emerged during Egypt’s storm is one of the world’s most dangerous. Amongst locals, it is known as the ‘deathstalker,’ a nod to the toxicity of the venom harboured inside its tail.

One sting from a fat-tail scorpion can kill adult humans in less than an hour. Luckily though, doses of anti-venom were administered to patients and all were discharged from the hospital feeling well.

As these creatures continue to seek out dry spots until their homes recover, state media has urged residents to avoid areas with many trees. Locals on the Nile said that although scorpion sightings were normal, seeing this many bites was out of the ordinary.

The storm was extremely rare for this region of Egypt, with the last major rainfall occurring over 11 years ago. Typically, Aswan experiences just 1 millimetre of rain per year.

A single hour of rain was enough to ‘wreck everything’, to quote an Egyptian government employee. Officials reported that 103 homes were destroyed in the event, however residents claim the real number was much larger.

Those stung might’ve dodged a bullet thanks to unused reserves of antidotes and fast-acting doctors, but this event should signal a type of risk from climate change that is often left unconsidered.

A radical fluctuation in weather will affect the entire ecosystem around us as it attempts to adapt. So along with optimising the building structure of homes and workplaces to protect us, perhaps we need to think about the nature living around us too.

If destroyed homes and scorpion invasions aren’t enough to drastically speed up innovative climate change solutions… I hate to think what will be.


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