70 People Injured After Piranha Attack in Argentina

12/26/2013 at 06:00 PM EST

Piranhas Attack Bathers in Argentina
Silvina Salinas/La Capital/AP
An attack by a school of carnivorous fish has injured 70 people bathing in an Argentine river, including seven children who lost parts of their fingers or toes.

Director of lifeguards Federico Cornier said Thursday that thousands of bathers were cooling off from 100-degree temperatures in the Parana River in Rosario on Wednesday when bathers suddenly began complaining of bite marks on their hands and feet.

He blamed the attack on palometas, "a type of piranha, big, voracious and with sharp teeth that can really bite."

Paramedic Alberto Manino said some children he treated lost entire digits. He told the Todo Noticias channel that city beaches were closed, but it was so hot that within a half-hour, many people went back to the water.

Officials added the heatwave was partially responsible for why the fish congregated on the river's surface.

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