Brazilian pries grandson from anaconda death grip


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Fri Feb 9, 1:58 PM ET

A 66-year-old Brazilian man wrestled with a 15-foot (5-metre) anaconda for nearly half an hour to free his grandson from the snake's crushing death grip, local media reported on Friday.

Matheus Pereira de Araujo, 8, would likely be dead inside the belly of the 80 pound (35 kg) anaconda if his grandfather had not heard his screams for help, zoologists said.

Anacondas, the biggest snakes in the world, live in swamps and rivers. They kill prey by asphyxiation or drowning.

When the snake struck Araujo, who lives in the world's third largest metropolis of Sao Paulo, he was playing with a cousin on Wednesday in a creek bed on his grandfather's farm 310 miles (500 km) from the city in a town called Cosmorama.

"It was very fast. I didn't have time to do anything," the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted Araujo as saying. "My grandfather is a hero -- I was so afraid of dying."

Joaquim Pereira was driving home when he heard the screams of Matheus and his cousin Flavio, 8, who ran to get help.

Pereira jumped into the ravine and grappled with the snake, which started coiling around him as well.

"I started fighting the animal and tried to loosen its grip on the boy's neck but the snake was too strong," Pereira told the Bom Dia newspaper of Sao Jose do Rio Preto.

Pereira then attacked it with stones and a machete.

"I kept hitting it with the machete but it felt like a rubber tyre, it wouldn't tear," he said.

He killed it after a long struggle to free the boy, who needed 21 stitches on his chest where the snake bit him.

"It was the most terrible scene that I've seen in my life," Pereira said. "It was totally coiled around him while he was screaming that he was dying."

Senator Eduardo Suplicy said Pereira should be honoured by the Brazilian government for heroism.