Matsuyama, Japan: An 87-year-old woman, Chieko Kikuchi, died after she was stung more than 150 times by a swarm of giant hornets in Ozu, Ehime Prefecture, as she traveled home from a nursing facility, the local fire service headquarters said Thursday.
Neither a staff member from the nursing facility accompanying her nor paramedics who attended the scene were able to help wheelchair-bound Chieko Kikuchi escape the swarm of Asian giant hornets, called suzumebachi in Japanese.
The woman was rushed to hospital after the attack but died the following day of multiple organ failure.
The insects, whose nest was apparently attached to a nearby building, swarmed Kikuchi near her home at around 4 p.m. on Sept. 11.
According to the fire department representative, the person accompanying Kikuchi called the nursing center for assistance and attempted to save the woman himself, but was unable to help her in the face of the insect onslaught.
Paramedics dispatched to the scene were unable to intervene either as they had no protective clothing with them, the fire service said, adding that the responders mistakenly believed the victim had been already been taken to safety when they were dispatched.
The incident occurred in September but details have only just been released by local authorities.
Experts said hornets usually attack people when their nests are disturbed and the case has been described as unusual.
To avoid getting stung by hornets, you should keep away from their nests, wear protective jackets and use a wasp killer spray.
Hornets kill around 20 people a year in Japan. Their large stinger injects a venom which can cause tissue damage.
Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tokyo’s Tamagawa University, once described the sting as “like a hot nail through my leg”