Web of doubt surrounds India spider attack
June 4, 2012 -- Updated 2144 GMT (0544 HKT)
Spiders similar to this tarantula have been spotted in large numbers in the Indian town of Sadiya.
- Indian newspaper reports a spider attack on remote town
- Two people killed and scores bitten by tarantula-like spiders
- Expert questions whether deaths caused by spider bites
- Spiders collected from town are undergoing tests
(CNN) -- A swarm of poisonous spiders has wreaked havoc in a remote town in northeast India, scaring its inhabitants and possibly killing two people.
According to a report Sunday in The Times of India, a large number of spiders descended on the town of Sadiya in Assam as a local festival came to end on May 8 and sparked panic as residents tried to avoid the swarm.
The report said that scores of people later visited the town's hospital with spider bites and a middle-aged man and a teenage boy died after being bitten by the spiders.
The incident alarmed local officials who told residents to stay indoors and considered spraying the town with insecticide, the report said.
Jintu Gogoi told The Times he felt excruciating pain and nausea after being bitten by one of the spiders and his finger was black and swollen.
However, the attack has puzzled spider experts.
Last month, LR Saikia and a team of researchers from Dibrugarh University visited the town to investigate what had happened.
Saikia told CNN that he believed the man may have died from a snake bite, while the boy may not have suffered any bite at all.
"The evidence that we gathered does not support the claim that they died after being bitten by spiders," Saikia said.
Saikia added that the man's relatives appeared to have taken him to traditional spiritual healers instead of qualified doctors when symptoms appeared.
He confirmed that about 12 people have visited hospitals in the area recently, complaining of spider bites.
"Only two of them were confirmed bitten by spiders. But they were ordinary spiders," Saikia said.
Investigators drew their conclusions from questioning relatives of the two dead people about the type of bite marks and symptoms, Saikia said.
Some 20 spiders resembling tarantulas from the incident were handed over to investigators during their week-long stay.
Tarantulas indigenous to the region are not known to be fatally venomous, but about five of the recovered spiders are currently undergoing tests.
When asked if spiders were likely to have swarmed the town of just under 1,000 people, Saikia said, "This is just a story ... based on rumors."
CNN's Harmeet Singh in Delhi contributed to this report
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0718 GMT (1518 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories