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'Dragon' attacks ranger

A KOMODO dragon climbed a ladder to a park ranger's hut and mauled his hand and foot, Indonesian officials said yesterday. The victim received severe lacerations but appeared to be recovering.

The attack on Rinca, one of three islands where the world's largest lizard can be found in the wild, occurred on Sunday when the animal entered the hut and lunged at the victim, who was sitting at his desk, said Daniel Ngongo, a Komodo National Park official.

The 46-year-old victim, Main, screamed for help and jumped onto his desk, clutching the neck of the still-snapping reptile. He then let go of the reptile and fled out the window as colleagues raced to his aid and used wooden sticks to force the dragon out of the hut.

Main, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, received more than 30 stitches, but appeared to be recovering.

"I'm lucky I survived," Main said from his hospital bed on nearby Bali island. "Nothing like this has ever happened to me ... in 25 years on the job. I've never been attacked."

Attacks on humans by Komodo dragons are rare. One attacked and killed an 8-year-old boy in 2007 on Komodo island, the first recorded deadly attack on a human in 33 years.

The reptile can grow up to 3 meters and weigh as much as 70 kilograms. They have shark-like serrated teeth. The reptile's saliva contains roughly 50 different known bacteria strains, so infection is a risk.

"He is recovering," said nurse Adi Palguna. "There's no sign of toxin poisoning."


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