A young girl, 13, has lost her little toe after piranhas attacked more than 30 people in an Argentinian river.
Lifeguards were ‘rushed off their feet’ treating dozens of people following the horrific incident by the Parana River in Santa Fe.
Alarming footage showed one of the injured with blood dripping from wounds on his bandaged feet on Sunday.
The teenager was raced to hospital for an emergency skin graft operation after having her toe bitten off.
Piranha cousins called palometas have been blamed for the onslaught at a popular riverside beach spot called Laguna Setubal.
Experts said the assault was unexpected at this time of year and blamed high temperatures and low water levels.
Swimmers were banned from entering the water as lifeguards warned people of ‘simultaneous attacks’.
Sergio Berardi, a union representative for lifeguards in the area, said: ‘We cannot stress enough the importance of heeding the warnings of the lifeguards, especially families with children, now we have seen the damage these piranhas can do.
‘When the lifeguards see one of two people being bitten, they automatically order people out of the water, but often this action is not enough or efficient because of the amount of people in the area.
‘On Sunday afternoon the lifeguards on duty were rushed off their feet trying to deal with all the people who suffered bite injuries at the same time.
‘These fish tend to move in shoals so we get a lot of simultaneous attacks.
‘We didn’t expect what happened to occur before summer even starts here. If people take a quick dip in the water they should be okay but the best thing is to take advantage of the showers that are installed on the beach.’
It comes after 60 people were injured in an mass piranha attack in the same river on Christmas Day 2013.
A seven-year-old child had to have part of their finger amputated and a young boy was left with an open fracture in his hand.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more stories like this, check our news page.