BEIJING, Sep 13 (AFP) - A Chinese city has launched an operation to find a large number of crocodiles that escaped when floods hit the region in recent days, authorities said on Tuesday (Sep 12).
A typhoon brought sustained heavy rains to southern China last week, triggering inundations in Hong Kong and other areas.
Deluges around the city of Maoming in Guangdong province caused a lake at a commercial crocodile farm to overflow with over 70 animals escaping, local media reported.
A person who answered the phone at the local emergency management office told AFP on Tuesday that officials were "working to deal with" the reptilian runaways.
The person did not say how many animals were still on the loose or whether any had so far been recovered.
A video published by the state-backed Beijing News showed responders in red uniforms searching flooded fields in rescue boats.
Further images showed several two-metre-long scaly beasts lying on the road, their fearsome jaws bound tight with red tape.
"Crocodiles are still in the water, and several government departments are working to catch them," the state-affiliated China National Radio (CNR) reported, citing the local agriculture bureau.
"The specific situation is still under investigation ... (including) the specific number of crocodiles," CNR said.
Crocodiles are bred in China for their skin as well as their meat, which is sometimes used in traditional medicine.
The stricken area is also home to a "crocodile theme park" and "the country's largest crocodile breeding base", according to CNR.
"Crocs are bloodthirsty animals - they'd definitely bite people," wrote one concerned user on the Weibo social media platform.
"Don't worry, they'll leave you alone once they've eaten you," another joked.