Workers collect crocodiles Tuesday during an evacuation of the reptiles from a Thai farm threatened by floodwater. news services
updated 10/18/2006 5:20:50 PM ET 2006-10-18T21:20:50

Workers at a flood-threatened crocodile farm in central Thailand rushed on Wednesday to move hundreds of the reptiles to higher ground to stop them from swimming away.

Authorities in the central province of Uthai Thani, 140 miles north of Bangkok, ordered the evacuation of some 4,000 crocodiles on Sunday, most of them kept in pens alongside a river swollen from monsoon rains.

"I am confident that these crocodiles will not swim away from my farm, but I have to move them to other farms for the sake of public safety," said farm owner Amorn Jittapinitmas, who has raised crocodiles for meat and skin for 35 years.

"I have built 3.2-meter (10-foot) high tanks for them using concrete blocks, but enormous amounts of water are pouring in," Amorn added. "The water has flooded over a meter (yard) already. I'm scared the water is going to rise even higher."

The reptiles, ranging from palm-sized newborns to 20-year-old breeding parents more than 10 feet in length, are first rendered unconscious with an electric prod.

Workers then tie their snouts, legs and tails and row them in boats to nearby farms on higher ground.

"The relocation is 100 percent safe because they are tied up with tight ropes. If there is a boat accident, the crocodiles would not hurt people, but they would die," Amorn said.

The 60-strong team has worked around the clock and expected to move the last 200 crocodiles by the weekend, he said.

Monsoon rains flood parts of Thailand every year, ending usually in late-October. There are often reports during the flood season of farm-raised crocodiles that escape and wander through swelling rivers and inundated villages.

Intermittent flooding since late August has left 56 people dead across the country, the National Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Center said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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