Indonesian pop star bitten by cobra during performance, dies shortly after

Pop star Irma Bule continued performing for 45 minutes after the deadly bite

26-year-old Indonesian pop singer Irma Bule passed away on Sunday, shortly after a performance in which she was bitten by a king cobra onstage.

According to Reptiles magazine, Bule was performing at a village in West Java, Indonesia when she accidentally stepped on the cobra’s tail, causing the snake to react by striking her thigh.

Venomous snakes were frequently a part of Bule’s act, in which the pop star would drape boa constrictors, reticulated pythons, and king cobras across her shoulders while performing her hit songs to hundreds of people. Bule performs a popular style of music known as dangdut, which often incorporates such deadly props.

On Sunday, many of those people looked on completely unaware that anything out of the ordinary had happened. When the show’s snake handler attempted to administer an antivenin jab on Bule, she refused and continued singing for another 45 minutes without treatment.

Bule was finally rushed to the hospital when she started to vomit and experience seizures, but her body succumbed to the snake venom and she was later pronounced dead.

In the wake of Bule’s death, critics and reporters have begun to question why she was handling such deadly animals in the first place, and whether the snakes were under proper supervision. A story published in TIME earlier this morning explains how young female singers in rural Indonesia are often forced to go to extreme — and sometimes deadly — lengths in order to further their careers.

Watch Bule perform with the snakes below.


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