A man has died in Australia after being bitten by one of the world's most venomous snakes - a rare fatality despite the country being home to the planet's 10 deadliest species.
Andrew Vaughan's body was found by a search party last week after he went missing while checking power lines in dense bushland near Yeppoon, 700 kilometres north of Brisbane.
An autopsy had determined that the 57-year-old died from a taipan bite, his employer Ergon Energy said.
Vaughan became separated from colleagues in thick scrub at the remote site last Thursday and the alarm was raised when he ceased responding to radio and phone contact.
“Andrew was working with another workmate and a contract backhoe operator clearing a track to get access to a pole for maintenance work to be carried out at a later time,” Ergon executive Peter Billing told ABC radio.
“At some stage during those activities Andrew had been bitten by the snake.”
According to an internal email from Billing to Ergon staff, Vaughan appeared to have died almost instantly and was unable to be revived when a search party of police, emergency workers and colleagues found him three hours later.
“The taipan is regarded as Australia's most dangerous species of snake,” Billing wrote to staff, according to an excerpt of the email published by Fairfax newspapers.
“I urge you to treat all snakes as venomous and ensure you consider your surroundings and any potential hazards.”
It is the second time in almost as many months an Australian has been bitten by a taipan - a 17-year-old survived an inland taipan bite in September north of Sydney after swift treatment in hospital with anti-venom.
The inland taipan or “fierce snake” is ranked by the Australian Venom Research Unit as the world's most venomous - a single drop can kill 100 men.
Its less toxic cousin, the coastal taipan which is native to the Yeppoon area, still packs a deadly punch; it is the world's third-most venomous snake.
According to official estimates there are about 3 000 snake bite cases in Australia every year, 300-500 of which require anti-venom treatment. An average of two prove fatal.
Australia is home to 20 of the world's 25 most venomous snakes, including the entire top 10. - Sapa-AFP