About 10 hikers were stung by a swarm of bees along a popular trail in Hong Kong's countryside on Sunday, with at least seven of them sent to hospital for treatment.
The incident took place at around 3pm on a nature trail in Pat Sin Leng Country Park in the northeastern New Territories.
Some victims said they saw a swarm of bees emerging from a hive, and the group tried to slow down to avoid agitating the insects, but were still attacked.
At least eight men and two women were stung on the head and arms, according to police.
The hikers managed to escape and went downhill before calling police. At least five were sent in an ambulance to Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital Tai Po for treatment. A man and woman went to the hospital on their own.
Paramedics at the scene said the victims' wounds were not serious.
One hiker, who only gave his surname as Ho, said "total confusion" broke out when the bees attacked. He told reporters he was a regular hiker and seldom came across such cases, adding that he believed a careless individual might have hit the hive.
In September 2018, there were many reports of people being stung by bees after the city was hammered by monster storm Typhoon Mangkhut, which left countless toppled trees and destroyed insect nests in its wake.
Bee attacks can be fatal. According to guidelines issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, hikers should not touch the hives or nests of bees, hornets or wasps in the countryside.
"If there are only one or two bees, ignore them and keep going as usual," the guidelines said. "If there is a [hive] blocking the way, circumvent it and proceed."
"When attacked by a swarm of bees … squat still and cover your head and neck with outerwear for protection, or lie curled on the ground and evacuate slowly after the swarm has dispersed."
The guidelines also stated that if a sting was left in a victim's wound, it should be removed by forceps, and not squeezed out as poison glands might release more residue into the person's body.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.