A 22-year-old man died after being attacked by piranhas while swimming in the Paraguay River, south of the capital, Asuncion, on Jan. 2. His family saw the man disappear under water. A search by emergency services only yielded the man’s body 45 minutes later.
A 49-year-old man also died while swimming in the same river in the village of Puerto Rosario. His body was found with bite marks after the man was reported missing. Forensic investigations revealed that he was also believed to have been attacked by piranhas, which primarily targeted the man’s face.
Subsequently, two more people were killed in the Teppicari River near Villa Florida. Their bodies were also found with bite marks from piranhas.
There have been numerous reports of swimmers being injured in attacks by piranhas in recent days. For example, seven swimmers were bitten on New Year’s Day at the beach of a swimming club in Itapua. They are now considering pouring chemicals into the water to keep the fish out.
It is unusual for piranhas to be so aggressive. According to biologist Julio Javier Capli, piranhas can hide in vegetation before attacking. These attacks are most likely during the breeding season, or in warm weather when the water level in rivers is low. Piranhas usually move in a group. Males attack threats to defend the young.
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