Indonesian singer Irma Bule, 26, died after being bitten by a poisonous king cobra during a live performance.
The snake was part of the performance being held at a village in West Java. Irma was known for her ‘goyang ular’ (snake dance moves) and had performed with various kinds of snakes in the past.
The mother of three was bitten by a cobra that hadn’t been defanged. An antidote was offered to her by the snake handler but she refused it.
According to Irma’s mother, Encum, most snakes are defanged and have their mouths taped shut when they’re onstage. Somehow this snake was made part of the performance without either precaution and the singer did not realize that she had been bitten by a poisonous snake.
In the middle of her second song, Irma stepped on the snake’s tail, and it then bit her on the thigh; 45 minutes after the bite, Bule started throwing up on stage and collapsed.
She was rushed to the hospital, where she was declared dead. Irma Bule’s case highlights the poverty-stricken lives of young women in Indonesia. They perform on stage in skimpy clothes in various villages hoping to make it big. Performing with snakes gets them around Rs 1,700; while without snakes, they make around Rs 1,300. It’s no wonder then that many choose to perform with pythons and cobras.
While this news may be getting attention for being shocking and strange, one can hope that the light it sheds on the lives of these singers and the snakes will go on to help improve the lives of both.
The video of the snake handler taking the cobra off Irma has been gaining steam on social media. We’ve shared it below but would like to advise viewer discretion as it may disturb some viewers.