Indonesian teenager survives death after needlefish attack

A 16-year-old Indonesian boy required emergency surgery to stay alive after a needlefish speared him in the neck.

The boy named Muhammad Idul and his parents were fishing in Buton river located off southeast Sulawesi province when the life-threatening incident occurred on Saturday. A needlefish jumped out of water and landed on the boy’s neck, piercing its sharp-pointed snout straight through the back of his skull.

Muhammad Idul

Muhammad reportedly spent two days at a hospital before the successful surgery was conducted.

Graphic photos from the surgery room has since gone viral on social media.

Local media confirmed the surgery lasted two delicate hours. Without efforts from a team of three experienced surgeons and two anaesthetists, the surgery would have ended in death because removing such a large sharp object around a large vessel in the neck was a high-risk challenge.

Professor Dr. Syafri K. told newsmen that Muhammad is responding to treatment and would be spending more time at the hospital for close monitoring.

‘There are risks of infection but the boy is relatively stable…At the moment, he is still feverish so we need to watch him until the fever subsides…He is recovering well,’ Dr. Syafri said.

Analysing the graphic video on its Facebook page, iFish described it as “the worst nightmare material right here.”

FB users responded with mixed feelings, including one who wrote: “What a real pain in the neck!”

“Amazing he survived,” another one commented.

Muhammad’s father, Saharuddin, said his son was excited about fishing and had taken it as a hobby to go with the family every weekend. No one envisaged such a gory event that Saturday night.

The brave bow managed to get to the land and was able to walk home with the needlefish hanging on his neck. Removing the sharp snout wasted time because hospitals around Sulawesi area lacked proper equipment for the surgery.

Muhammad was later transferred to a better-equipped hospital in Makassar, where where surgeons battled to save his life.

Incidents of needlefish attack are rare around the world. A Sulawesi women was reportedly impaled in the eye and she died shortly afterwards. In 2018, a 22-year-old naval officer named Kriangsak Pengpanich from Thailand was struck dead by a needlefish. He was undergoing a training exercise at that time. A Hawaiian boy also died of same attack in 1977 when the creature pierced through his eye and brain.

The Indonesian needlefish is also known as “the living needle.” It is one of the most dangerous sea creatures. They are easily noticed under water surface but their greatest weapons are the spear-like snout and a lightening speed of 37 miles per hour. Their length measures up to 3 feet.

Attacking with the turbo-needed at a speed of 37m/h makes needlefish a huge threat to humans. Needlefish live in freshwater, oceanic and brackish environments.