AUTHORITIES in a southern Thai province have warned locals to be cautious of at least 10 crocodiles that escaped from their enclosure after flood waters inundated a local zoo.
According to the Bangkok Post, Muang district municipal officials who oversee the Tha Lad Zoo in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, told residents from the surrounding area to exercise caution, fearing that the reptiles were hungry and could attack humans.
The paper reported that the zoo, which is part of a public park, hosted more than 10 crocodiles, with some measuring up to five meters long.
Deputy Mayor Manas Pongyeelar was quoted as confirming that the crocodiles were missing from the zoo, adding authorities were patrolling the park to locate them.
“I was informed that some crocodiles could have escaped from the Tha Lad Zoo due to the high level of flood waters,” he told local media.
The reptiles, he said, were being located to prevent them from reaching populated areas but municipal workers faced a challenging task due to rising water levels.
Two days ago, residents in the Muang district had reportedly shot dead to other crocs, measuring 3-4 meters long, that broke loose from a private farm due to the floods.
Flood waters have badly affected 10 provinces in southern Thailand, resulting in 12 deaths, and leaving another 744,422 residents displaced.
Local media had also reported sightings of crocodiles swimming around the vicinity of the zoo after the reptiles were spotted by aerial images of the devastation.
On Friday, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited flooded parts of the south of the country where unseasonable downpours have cut road and rail links and forced an airport to close.
Thailand‘s wet season usually ends in late November and heavy rain and flooding is rare in January, which is high season for beach resorts in the south.
Twenty-six flights to and from the main airport in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat airport were cancelled on Friday because the runway was flooded, the Department of Airports said.
“The floods began on January 1 and are due to the unseasonable heavy rain,” said an officer at the National Disaster Warning Center who declined to be identified as she is not authorised to speak to the media.
Railway services on the main line linking Thailand to Malaysia have been suspended because the track is flooded.
Southern Thailand is a major rubber-producing region and the wet weather was having a significant impact on production, said Uthai Sonlucksub, president of the Natural Rubber Council of Thailand.
Additional reporting by Reuters