Four people were killed and 20 others have been injured in separate piranha attacks in Paraguay this year, causing concern among locals.
On January 2, a 22-year-old man temporarily went missing during a family outing near the Paraguay river, south of the capital Asuncion, at Itá Enramada, as piranhas attacked him and carried him underwater. His family contacted the police and he was found less than an hour later with severe bite marks from the ferocious fish.
In a separate instance, a 49-year-old man was killed in the Paraguay River, in the town of Puerto Rosario, after he went swimming and drowned as a result of a piranha attack. He had bite wounds on his face, according to a report.
On Tuesday, members of the Naval Prefecture and the Public Ministry removed the body of a third man who was reported missing the previous day. He was found floating in the Paraguay River and a forensic doctor later determined he died of asphyxia by submersion. He also had bite marks on his face, as well as his feet.
In addition to these deaths, two other young people were killed in piranha attacks in a branch of the Tebicuary River, in Villa Florida. Their bodies were also found with bite marks, an Argentine newspaper reported.
Dozens of other reports have been filed of bathers and swimmers being bitten by piranhas in Itapua and other beach areas.
Piranhas are an omnivorous fish species that do not usually aggress humans, unless in times of drought or when they are characteristically aggressive during their breeding season, from October to March. This aggressive behavior, normally in male piranhas, however, does not usually result in a fatal attack, according to the report.