Panic in southern Vietnam province as crocodiles escape from farm

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Men catch one of the hundreds of crocodiles that escaped from a farm in Bac Lieu Province Friday

Hundreds of crocodiles escaped from a farm in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau, and only 72 had been captured as of Monday morning with the help of local hunters.

The reptiles escaped into a crowded residential area with a primary school after a fence at Quoc Viet Company, which raises 580 crocodiles for seafood export, collapsed early Friday.

Some students and a security guard noticed 20 of them in the school's 1,000-square-meter fish pond. The pond has round 5,000 tra (pangasius) fish of between 1.5 and 3 kilograms each.

The company did not inform the school or authorities, and only promised to catch all the crocodiles and compensate the school after local residents found out and reported to local officials.

It is checking the reptiles left in the farm, some weighing more than 100 kilograms, to know how many are at large.

It has put up a corrugated iron fence around the school and sent workers to hunt for the crocodiles. It has also hired some hunters from nearby Bac Lieu Province.

Nguyen Van Co, a local resident, discovered one reptile weighing nearly 60 kg at a pond near his house and he caught it with seven other men.

"That was around midnight. The crocodile was swimming right towards me, and luckily I responded quickly, or I would have lost my legs," he said.

There is curiosity and also panic in the area. While people surround a crocodile to look at it after it is caught, many houses are barricaded for protection.

Ca Mau has thousands of criss-crossing rivers and canals and people tend to build houses along them. Children have been warned not to swim in the area.

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