Hundreds hospitalized after historic Egyptian storm unleashes hordes of scorpions

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


Hundreds of people were hospitalized as a result of scorpion stings after a historic thunderstorm brought throngs of the venomous arachnids out of their underground burrows and into residential areas of Aswan, Egypt on Friday.

Roughly 500 of the city’s residents underwent antivenom therapy at several area hospitals, BBC News reports, citing an unnamed health official who said they have since been released. The Egyptian fat-tailed scorpion is considered to be one of the most deadly of its species. 

According to the Egyptian Independent, the heavy thunderstorm was the first of its kind in Aswan, located along the Nile River, bringing with it hail, snow, dust storms, and powerful winds that uprooted trees, knocked over electricity towers, and demolished a swath of homes. Several power outages in the area were reported as well.

In addition to flushing scorpions out of the ground, floods also brought out a multitude of snakes, though it is unclear whether anyone was treated for snake bites. Three people succumbed to unspecified injuries sustained during the storm, according to Egypt’s Acting Health Minister Khalid Abdel-Ghafar, as reported by the Associated Press. 

The thunderstorm was first reported in Aswan, situated near the Nile River, at around 11 p.m. Friday with reports of lightning, heavy rains, and hail. Arid soil caught up by gusting winds created dust storms that reduced visibility to near zero at times. The city of Aswan was enveloped in darkness throughout the night after the storm knocked out a power supply station.

According to AccuWeather senior meteorologist and lead international forecaster Jason Nicholls, the thunderstorms were triggered by a low pressure system moving across Egypt late Friday. “This low went on to also produce isolated thunderstorms in far northeastern Egypt, southern Israel and northeastern Saudi Arabia into southern Jordan this past weekend,” he said. Nicholls also noted that thunderstorms of this magnitude are extremely rare for the area, in part due to its arid conditions. The normal yearly rainfall for Aswan is only about 0.05 of an inch.

AccuWeather forecasters caution that showers and thunderstorms across northeastern Egypt this week could produce heavy rainfall resulting in flooding of low-lying areas. The heaviest rain is expected to fall near the coast of northeast Egypt. 

Major General Mohamed Al-Sharif, Governor of Alexandria has announced a state of emergency for the Governorate of Alexandria, according to local media. Affected residents can expect road closures due to anticipated flooding.