Ruksana Shaikh (inset) was bitten by the cobra at a garbage dump behind her house in Shirgaon village in the Palghar district

A 63-year-old resident of Shirgaon village in Palghar district died after a spectacled cobra, also known as Indian cobra, got entangled in her clothes and bit her on the knee on Wednesday afternoon.

Ruksana Shaikh was dumping garbage at a spot right behind her house when she felt a rustle in her clothes -- a pair of salwar-kameez -- and found an entangled snake. When she tried to grab it, the snake bit her on the knee and slithered out, said local snake rescuer Bhushan Bhoir.

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Shaikh rushed home and told her daughter-in-law. She was taken to a primary health centre (PHC) within half an hour and administered an anti-venom. But her condition deteriorated, promoting the health care officials to recommend treatment at a private hospital. She was taken to a hospital but the authorities there claimed that there was nothing that they could do and that she should be taken back to the PHC for more anit-venom, said a local. "Her condition kept getting worse. She was struggling to breathe."

Shaikh died on the way back to the PHC.

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Locals suspect that the spectacled cobra was chasing a rat in the garbage pile when it slithered into Shaikh's clothing.

Snake conservationists feel that her life could have been saved had there been proper medical infrastructure. Priyanak Kadam, founder of Snakebite Healing and Education Society, which is dedicated to addressing snakebites, said rural areas are not equipped to deal with medical emergencies. "Snakebite is curable. The victim could have been saved if a life support system had been available at the public health centre."

A Shirgaon villager alleged that the PHC authorities had erred when they wrapped the compression bandage around Shaikh's leg. "Instead of keeping the leg below waist level, they raised it. This caused the venom to spread easily. Also, the bandage wasn't wound tightly."