Update: Sept. 20, 11 p.m.
Two of the most seriously injured hikers, identified as a 61-year-old man surnamed Hu (胡) and a 66-year-old man surnamed Chiao (焦), lost all vital signs when being carried down the mountain by first responders, reported ETtoday. Although they were sent to Rueifang Miner's Hospital and Taiwan Miner's General Hospital for emergency treatment, doctors were unable to resuscitate them and the two men were declared dead.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of 20 hikers was attacked by hundreds of Asian hornets during an excursion in a mountainous area of New Taipei City on Wednesday (Sept. 20), leading to multiple injuries and one person falling down a 10-meter slope.
New Taipei City Fire Department was informed a group of 20 people had been attacked by hornets when they were hiking on Kengzi Neishan in New Taipei City's Ruifang District, reported Liberty Times. The Fire Department dispatched 20 vehicles and 51 personnel, equipped with epinephrine and ropes.
Eleven individuals reported injuries, with four in more serious condition. Of the original party, 16 have walked down from the mountain trail, while the four more seriously injured hikers remained in place to await treatment.
The four seriously injured persons included a male hiker who fell 10 meters down a slope, reported TTV News. As of press time, rescue personnel are continuing to attend to the injured individuals.
The seven less seriously injured hikers have been taken by ambulance to Keelung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Taiwan Miner's General Hospital for treatment.
Ambulances arrive near scene of Asian hornet attack on Sept. 20. (New Taipei City Fire Department photo)
Members of the group said they caught some of the hornets and showed them to the firefighters, who identified them as Asian hornets. One hiker was reportedly initially attacked by the hornets and in response tried to wave them off with a fan.
Subsequently, the people behind the hiker were also attacked by the hornets. Soon everyone in the party started to run and some tripped and fell.
According to reports from hikers at the scene, there were hundreds of hornets involved in the attack. One of the seriously injured patients required emergency medical evacuation.
Keelung City Fire Department was cited by UDN as saying that individuals stung by an Asian hornet, may experience swelling, severe pain, fever, and, in severe cases, difficulty breathing or shock. During seasonal transitions, Asian hornet colonies tend to be less stable and more aggressive, especially when they are protecting their nests.
This is when they are most likely to swarm and attack humans. The department advised people to be especially careful not to get close to the nest.
Paramedics gather to treat injured hikers. (New-reporter.com photo)
The activity range of Asian hornets ranges from lowlands to about 1,500 meters in mountainous areas. Nests along hiking trails are more likely to be disturbed and they generally build their nests on tree branches and in underground burrows.
In particular, hikers are advised to avoid walking on overgrown paths or through dense vegetation that has not been recently traversed. In addition, wearing light-colored clothing, and using fragrances should be avoided.
Firefighters said that in late summer and early autumn, Asian hornets are on guard to protect their nests and are particularly aggressive toward humans. The Keelung Wild Bird Society recommends that hikers wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when hiking, stay calm when they see individual hornets and do not throw stones or try to drive them away as this may attract their attention and make the hiker become the target of attack.
Correction: Sept. 21, 10 p.m.
The species of hornet that attacked the hikers was initially identified by firefighters as the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia). However, based on the victims' wounds and photos provided by the public, bee experts on Thursday (Sept. 21) determined that the stings were caused by the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), also known as the yellow-legged hornet.