An elderly woman has died after being stung more than 500 times in a horrific attack by a swarm of deadly bees.
Divina Ambrósio de Jesus, 84, was collecting firewood by a lake near her home in Presidente Olegário, south east Brazil, when she disturbed a beehive hidden in bushes near the water’s edge.
Firefighters and police called to the scene on March 2 found the elderly woman engulfed in an army of angry insects.
To scare off the hoard, rescuers set fire to a blanket creating clouds of smoke in the hope of calming down the bees and forcing them to leave their terrorised victim.
It took half-an-hour before emergency workers could disperse the creatures and rescue Ms de Jesus.
According to her daughter, Maria Abadia, 56, her mother was familiar with the area as she had lived locally for over 50 years.
She said: “Mum always went out in the early hours to collect bracken near the lake for her wood-fire burning stove to make her morning’s coffee.
“Despite her age she was still very strong and able to look after herself. We’re not sure how or why it happened, but somehow she must have stumbled on a hive and upset the bees.”
An eyewitness, who did not want to be named, raised the alarm.
He said: “I was walking past the area when I heard someone screaming for help. I ran to see what was going on and saw an elderly woman frantically trying to fight off hundreds of bees.
“It was horrific. It was like the worst nightmare you could possibly have. I just couldn’t get close to her because they were furious and far too many.
“She fell to the ground near the bridge by the stream and the insects surrounded her and attacked repeatedly. They just wouldn’t leave her alone. I felt completely helpless.”
Photographs taken of the victim at the time, show parts of her leg, arm and face peppered with bee stings. A sheet which she was laid on is littered with scores of the remnants of the stings.
Dr. Gilberto Moreira Palma who attended Ms de Jesus said: “The victim was unconscious when she arrived at the hospital. She was in a very bad state. The number of stings to her body was in the region of 500 or more.
“It’s unclear whether she was allergic to bee venom, but even if she wasn’t, the volume of stings was enough to send her body into shock.
“Unfortunately, after arriving here her state of health deteriorated rapidly and she couldn’t resist such a lethal attack to her system.”
The retired mother of five, died a day later in hospital from her injuries.
According to bee expert, biologist Helder Canto Resende, the animals that attacked Ms de Jesus were European or Western honey bees also known as Apis Mellifera.
He said: “The bees were brought to Brazil from Europe and Africa many years ago to produce wax, candles and honey.
“As the bees have adapted to our country, it is common for them to be found in urban areas and when they are disturbed their natural instinct is to attack.”
Ms Abadia added: “Our family is devastated by the painful and frightening way our mum died. She was well-loved in the area and didn’t deserve such a horrific end.
“At first we were hopeful she would pull through but she never regained consciousness and died within hours of the attack. At least we know everyone involved tried their best to save her.”