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At least 19 people have been stung to death by hornets -- which may include the world's largest hornet species Vespa mandarinia -- in China's central Shaanxi province in the last three months, according to the city government of Ankang, the apparent epicenter of a recent spate of fatalities and injuries.
A total of 583 people in the area have been stung by hornets since July 1, say city officials. Seventy victims are still recovering in hospitals.
Chen Changlin was hospitalized after being attacked by hornets, while harvesting rice last week.
"I ran and shouted for help, but the hornets chased me about 200 meters, and stung me for more than 3 minutes," he recounted to the state-run China Youth Daily.
Chen said hornets had first swarmed a woman and child working nearby, who then ran towards him. Both later died from the hornets' toxins.
"The more you run, the more they want to chase you," said another victim, whose kidneys were ravaged by the venom. When he was admitted to the hospital, his urine was the color of soy sauce, according to local reports.
Earlier this month, 30 people -- including 23 primary school children aged between six and eight years -- were injured in a hornet attack in Guangxi province, south of Shaanxi. Their teacher, Li Zhiqiang, told his students to hide under tables as he tried to drive away the insects before he lost consciousness. The school's headmaster told local media that most of the injured suffered stings to their heads, necks, hands and feet.