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More than 60 people injured in a mass piranha attack as they go for a Christmas day swim

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  • More than 20 children among injured when meat-eating fish attacked
  • Piranha fish hunt in packs and can strip a carcass in seconds
  • Swimmers were cooling down as temperatures in the city are 100 degrees

By Gerard Couzens

PUBLISHED: 07:36 EST, 26 December 2013 | UPDATED: 09:08 EST, 26 December 2013

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A mass piranha attack left sixty people injured as they enjoy a Christmas Day swim in an Argentine river.

Dozens of bathers including more than 20 children were bitten by the shoal of meat-eating fish during the surprise attack.

A seven-year-old girl lost part of one of her fingers and a young boy was left with an open fracture in his hand.

The Parana river in Rosario, where the fish attacked scores of swimmers

The Parana river in Rosario, where the fish attacked scores of swimmers

Other swimmers suffered deep cuts to their ankles, fingers and hands.

The attack happened on Christmas Day on a popular beach on the Parana River in the city of Rosario, birthplace of Barcelona striker Messi.

Swimmers trying to cool down in 100 degrees temperatures raced out of the water bleeding from wounds and shouting for help while the parents of children in the water rushed to their aid to drag them to safety.

Coastguards called paramedics so they could assist the most seriously injured before police temporarily closed off the beach, forcing people out of the water who continued to swim despite the danger.

The city of Rosario in Argentina, where the swimmers were attacked on Christmas Day

The city of Rosario in Argentina, where the swimmers were attacked on Christmas Day

The attack, blamed on a piranha cousin called palometas, was the most serious of its kind in the city since 2008 when 40 swimmers were hurt.

Paramedic Gustavo Centurion described them as 'very aggressive.'

The meat-eating fish are reported to have been attracted to the coast by debris left by local fishermen.

Local government spokesman Ricardo Biasatti described the attack as a rarity.

He said: 'This sort of event in this area is absolutely sporadic.
'It was the conjunction of two factors, a shoal that passed very briefly through an area full of people.'

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