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Learning English - Words in the News
Malaysia’s Scorpion Queen
Nur Malena Hassan

Nur Malena Hassan calls herself the Scorpion Queen. She has reclaimed a world record by spending more than a month in a box with more than six thousand scorpions. This report from Jonathan Kent:

Listen to the story

For Malaysia's Scorpion Queen this is sweet revenge. For the last thirty-two days Nur Malena Hassan has been living in a three-by-four-metre glass container in a shopping centre, sharing it with six thousand poisonous arachnids.

She's allowed out for just fifteen minutes a day so she eats, sleeps and prays in her box very carefully. She’s already been stung seven times. Three stings in quick succession and she could pass out. Nor has sleeping been easy. The scorpions get more active after dark.

It's three years since Nur Malena Hassan first set a record that would make most people's skin crawl. Then she spent thirty days shut away with two thousand seven hundred scorpions, but within a year she was dethroned by Thailand's own claimant, Kanchana Ketkeaw, who upped the ante by lasting out thirty-one days with more than three thousand of the creatures.

Nur Malena's fightback was almost derailed when she couldn't find enough scorpions but on Tuesday she overtook her rival and hopes to last until the end of the week to make any future challenge that much tougher. Meanwhile she'll be passing the time watching videos. She said her favourite at the moment is Spiderman.


Listen to the words

a small tropical animal with a long tail that has a poisonous sting on the end

sweet revenge
a very satisfying win over a rival who has won a previous contest

the class of insect-like animals with eight legs that includes spiders and scorpions

in quick succession
one thing followed quickly by another, without interruption

pass out
become unconscious, faint

would make most people's skin crawl
would horrify most people

overtaken in the competition

upped the ante
increased the difficulty of the competition

lasting out
enduring, surviving

here, stopped

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