After torrential rains and floods in southeast Australia, an expert warns of a venomous spider plague in the capital Sydney. “The prospect of warm weather and high humidity are ideal conditions for a spider’s funnel mutation in the coming days,” said Tim Faulkner, president of the Australian Reptile Park.
Floods in the area around Sydney have pushed the animals from their traditional habitats to seek refuge in drier areas. “Unfortunately, this may mean that they will find their way into apartments and homes very soon,” Faulkner said. In the past few days, pictures of thousands of spiders have already spread online, crawling near fences and buildings while fleeing the water.
Sydney funnel web spiders are among the most venomous in the world and are native to the area around the capital. To date, 13 deaths have been recorded due to funnel-shaped spider bites. There have been no known deaths since the antidote was developed in the early 1980s.
The Australian Reptile Zoo, north of Sydney, which produces the antidote, has called for more attention and advised that footwear and bedding should be checked for animals. However, Faulkner also encouraged “responsible adults” to catch spiders on the Internet and deliver them to collection points.
Meanwhile, floods killed them for the first time. Police said a man in northwestern Sydney was surprised by floods in his car and was found dead in the car. New South Wales State Minister Gladys Prejiclian said in Parliament that the lack of deaths given the catastrophic situation was “just a miracle”.
In the past few days, heavy rainy days have evacuated entire villages. Homes, streets and fields are inundated by floods, and many Australians have lost all their possessions.
24,000 people were brought to safety
Despite improvement in weather and blue skies in parts of the region, authorities haven’t provided all clarity yet. “We haven’t reached the mountain yet,” Prejiklian told reporters. Water levels in many rivers continued to rise, and evacuation orders were still possible in large areas, which could affect several thousand people. The politician said that such a flood “has not been witnessed in 50 years and in some parts for 100 years.”
And the Arab American News Agency reported that about 24,000 people have been taken to safety since the end of the week. According to the weather service, the water level in some communities has not yet reached its peak. While cleaning work has started in some areas, Prejiklian said, “Life will not be normal for many people for a long time.”