'Scorpion Queen' reclaims her crown

Kuala Lumpur - A Malaysian woman has overcome 17 scorpion stings to set a new world record by spending 36 days in a glass cage with 6 069 of the poisonous arachnids.

Nur Malena Hassan, 27, completed her feat on Saturday to reclaim the world title of "Scorpion Queen" from Thailand's Kanchana Ketkaew, who lived with more than 3 000 scorpions for 32 days in 2002.

The Malaysian first set the world record in 2001 by spending 30 days with 2 700 scorpions.

"I am happy to break the record set by the Thai. I want to prove that women can set records," she told reporters late on Saturday after emerging from a three-metre by four-metreglass room at a shopping mall in Kuantan in central Pahang state.

Nur Malena said she had been stung 17 times during the period, including one which was so "excruciatingly painful that I nearly fainted".

"Thank God I survived. Of course I wanted to give up. It's tense inside living with the scorpions and people were not that encouraging. I was fed up but there was encouragement from my supporters to continue," she said.

Nur Malena, who could only leave the box for only 15 minutes each day for a toilet break, also attributed her success to strong support from her mother and her trainer Ali Khan.

She said her priority now was to spend time with her mother and get a "good sleep" as she barely slept for more than four hours a day since the scorpions became active at night.

Officials said Nur Malena's feat, which was recorded on video cameras, would be sent to the Guinness Book of World Records for certification.

Malaysia, which once boasted the world's tallest building in the Petronas Twin Towers, has a penchant for seeking to set sometimes bizarre world records. - Sapa-AFP


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