Man speared by tribesmen in Papua New Guinea

A French man has been attacked with spears by tribesmen as he tried to save his girlfriend from being raped in the rainforests of western Papua New Guinea.

Matthew Scheurich, 28, pulled the spears from his chest and almost bled to death as he and his girlfriend fled for their lives through the thick jungle in the tropical island nation.

His wounds became infected and he is now in hospital in Cairns, Australia.

The attack happened after a tribesman in a remote village in Papua New Guinea took a shine to Mr Scheurich's French girlfriend and decided he wanted to marry her.

Mr Scheurich stepped in to protect the woman, but the tribesman retaliated by spearing him with arrows and hitting him on the head with a rock.

His survival has been dubbed a 'miracle' after the barbs narrowly missed his vital organs and he lost litres of blood.

Mr Scheurich's girlfriend endured a sexual assault and was also bitten, cut, scratched and badly bruised in the fracas.

The couple were only rescued after she set off their emergency locator beacon to raise the alarm, according to reports in the New Zealand Herald.

Mr Scheurich, a graphic designer from Waikato, New Zealand, who now lives in Melbourne, Australia, was in Papua New Guinea visiting his anthropologist girlfriend.

She was there to study the Febi tribe from the North Fly district as part of her research for her doctorate thesis, when one of the tribesman decided he wanted her.

After the attack, the pair managed to escape to the nearby town of Suabi where they were looked after by a local church before the missionary air service evacuated them to Kiunga, a coastal town, for medical treatment.

Dr Josette Docherty, an Australian doctor working there, told the New Zealand Herald Mr Scheurich was prone on a stretcher, in agony and 'deathly pale' when she first saw him.

One arrow had penetrated his ribcage and the wall of his stomach, and stopped just short of his aorta; the other had split a less vital artery.

Dr Docherty gave Mr Scheurich an urgent blood transfusion - including half a litre from her own partner, medical volunteer Allan Mason - but he needed urgent surgery to survive.

After a night in the 25-bed ward, which had only one nurse on duty, Mr Scheurich and his girlfriend flew to the capital, Port Moresby, and then to Cairns Base Hospital, Australia, last Tuesday.

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