Bathers in Brazil have been savaged in a wave of horrific attacks by piranhas scavenging for food near popular holiday resorts.
Scores of tourists have complained to local authorities are not doing enough to warn of the threats of shoals of the predatory fish.
Last Saturday a young woman had a chunk of flesh bitten out of the sole of her foot by the omnivorous six-inch red-eye species after swimming off the Praia de Cristo in north east Brazil.
Tourists have complained that local authorities are not doing enough to remind them of the threats of the shoals of predatory fish
The 22-year-old was rushed to hospital suffering from shock and heavy blood loss from the open wound.
She is the sixth person to be attacked by white piranha in the region this month and one of over forty since the beginning of this year.
In May, Daniele Cardosa, 28, was holidaying with her husband and five-year-old daughter on the shores of the San Francisco River in Pernambuco, when one of the lethal predators sunk its razor-sharp jaws onto the second toe of her right foot.
A traumatised Mrs Cardosa said: ‘I was only in the water for a few minutes when I felt a severe pain.
Last Sunday a 22-year-old woman had a bite taken out of her foot (left), while Daniele Cardosa (right) was bitten on her second toe
‘I screamed out thinking I had trodden on something. But when I pulled up my foot a piranha fell off and I saw a bunch of fish swimming close by.
‘There was a lot of blood and I ran out of the water as fast as I could. I almost lost my toe to the bite because it was so deep it came close to the bone.
‘Luckily, I had only gone into the shallow end of the river. It was as if they were waiting for me to move in deeper. If I had it could have been worse.’
The saleswoman said the area, popular with families and young children, has had numerous reported attacks but tourists were not being warned to stay out of the water.
She added: ‘I was shocked to discover I wasn’t the first person affected when a waiter rushed over carrying a first aid box and told me loads of other people had been bitten.
‘It’s outrageous that local restaurant owners gave us no information about the threat of piranhas and there are no warning signs put up by the local authority.’
There have been numerous reported of piranha attacks over the last few months
Mrs Cardosa has recovered after being treated at hospital. She has lodged a formal complaint with the council and may take legal action.
‘I will never go to the place again, the risks are too high for me and my family,’ she vowed.
Petrolina local authority, which is responsible for the area, denied it had a problem with piranha attacks but said it would be monitoring the situation to establish if the area ‘should have restricted use’.
The local authority has denied that there is a problem with piranha attacks
Screens are meant to protect bathers from piranhas on the Tocantins river
In Tocantins, central north Brazil, at least 12 bathers on Praia de Coco were victims of the man-eating fish during April this year.
The resort on the banks of the Tocantins river in has protection screens set in deeper stretches of the water which are meant to provide a zoned off, safer area for swimming.
But according to locals, the screens have been breached by powerful jaw red-bellied piranhas as the rains have raised river levels.
However locals report that the screens have been breached by the red-bellied piranhas
Scientists have blamed deforestation and the reduction in the flow of the San Francisco river for the increased piranha attacks
One of the victims, Antonia Rejane Oliveira, said she and her 19-year-old son were cooling their feet in the water as they sat around tables placed in the shallows when they were both bitten.
She said: ‘I felt a nip on my toe and when I lifted it there was blood. We left immediately because we knew our wounds would attract more fish.
Babaculandia mayor, Aleno Dias Guimaraes, admitted sections of the protection screens had been cut and damaged.
He added the smell of food from restaurants on the banks of the river is also to blame for attracting the lethal freshwater fish.
‘We have warned chefs to keep their barbeque grills well away from the water’s edge but the smell brings the creatures in and people make the situation worse by throwing scraps of food into the water,’ Mr Guimaraes said.
Chefs have been warned to keep their barbecue grills away from the water’s edge
This is not the first time the beach has recorded attacks for the year. In January, three people were treated at the city’s health centre suffering from bites to their toes.
Many said they have complained to the local authority about insufficient warning and lack of protection from the ferocious beasts.
Last year there were over 50 reported cases of piranha attacks.
Environmentalists claim deforestation and reduction in the natural flow of the river are largely to blame for piranha aggression in the San Francisco River.
They also cite an imbalance in the food chain in other rivers, alleging over-fishing of other species has left the predators with a shortage of food and schools are increasingly scavenging along the banks of the rivers in search of a meal.
Piranha’s possess one of the most fearsome reputations. The predators can smell blood up to two miles away, devour cattle to the bone in a matter of minutes, and pound for pound their sharp toothed bite is more powerful than a great white shark’s and three time stronger than an alligator’s.