updated 10/19/2007 8:32:44 AM ET 2007-10-19T12:32:44

Police with assault rifles hunted Friday for 36 crocodiles that escaped from a farm in northeastern Thailand when their pens were flooded after heavy rains, an official said.

Search parties shot and killed eight of the animals as they slithered through the flooded district Friday morning, said Chin Konjohor, chief of the area's municipal office.

Police and village volunteers have been scouring the Nonsoong district of Nakhon Ratchasima province by boat, day and night, since the crocodiles escaped on Tuesday, he said.

Chin said nighttime searches were often the most successful because crocodiles' eyes glow in the dark.

Heavy rains have inundated several northeastern provinces for days. Parts of Nakhon Ratchasima province, about 130 miles north of Bangkok, are among the hardest hit.

"The entire town is under water," Chin said. "We're working hard to catch the crocodiles before they bite someone."

Crocodiles are farmed in Thailand for their skin and meat, much of which is exported for use by European fashion designers and restaurants in China.

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