Four-inch scorpions called Deathstalkers descend on Egypt

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Mourad Abazid, 56, a government employee from the low-lying village of Kobaniya, on the west bank of the Nile, said the floods had flooded his house and forced him and his family to take shelter in a mosque. He now slept on the street next to the rubble of their home, while his wife and three children lived with neighbors.

“Thank goodness no one died; we saved people, but our houses are gone, ”he said. “We do not know what to do now.”

Most houses in the village were at least partially damaged, he said, with some at risk of collapsing. There had been no electricity or water since Friday night.

“It was only an hour of rain, but it ruined everything,” said Mr. Mohamed.

Aswan and the wider region of Upper Egypt have a long history of suffering from official neglect. In the midst of widespread poverty, some Aswans have turned to freelancing as scorpion hunters, a profitable though risky endeavor.

Scorpios can be milked for their venom, used for scientific research and certain medical treatments. A single gram of scorpion venom, which requires the milking of as many as 3,000 scorpions, can be exported for $ 8,000, says Dr. Abdel-Rahman, who is studying the medical and scientific uses of the poison.

Toxins isolated from deathstalker poison are currently used in laboratory research and in cancer treatment, where they can be used to paint tumor cells in the brain during surgery, highlighting them for removal.

“I’m very, very sad when people kill scorpions,” said Dr. Abdel-Rahman, “because scorpion venom is very rich and useful.”