Authorities in a southern Chinese city have launched an operation to recapture more than 70 crocodiles that escaped from a commercial farm after intense flooding swept through the region, multiple state media outlets have reported, with some residents warned to stay indoors.
The reptiles were originally kept at a crocodile farm in Maoming, in the southern province of Guangdong. But a recent deluge caused a local lake to overflow, allowing the animals to escape.
At least 69 adult crocodiles and six juveniles were on the prowl at one point near the village of Peng Cun, Shandong-based outlet Hai Bao News reported. The outlet said it contacted local authorities who had warned residents not to venture out.
An emergency force was deployed to round up the missing crocs using sonar detection equipment, according to The Beijing News.
But the depth of the floodwater posed an immense challenge to the operation, it added, prompting authorities to appeal to residents not to leave their homes.
In China, crocodiles are prized for their skin and their meat is believed to have medicinal value in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Guangdong is a popular location for crocodile farms due to its relatively warmer climate.
Southern China and Hong Kong have been battered by downpours after typhoon Haikui ripped through the region last week.
A member of the emergency squad told Nanfeng Plus that they may have to euthanize the crocodiles rather than capture them.
Video footage circulated on Chinese social media shows some of the crocs lurking behind a road sign near what appeared to be a completely submerged road.
Members of the emergency force dressed in helmets and high visibility vests could be seen on boats in search of the reptiles.
Some footage shows several crocodiles being captured and brought back to land, their mouths and limbs tied up to restrict their movement, as a handful of curious local residents look on from the shore.