Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico Hurricane crocodile escape contained

Crocodile, file picture
Image caption There had been fears that the reptiles were wandering free in flood-hit communities

Hundreds of crocodiles reported to have escaped from a breeding centre in Mexico during Hurricane Karl are still contained in a nature reserve, Mexico's environment agency has said.

The reptiles were reported to have swam away after their outdoor enclosure in Veracruz state was flooded.

But officials said only some had got out of their cages, and they had remained inside a nature reserve.

The crocodiles posed no threat to the public, they said.

"It seems there are reports that they are wandering free, that they are walking in the streets, but we have to say that that is not true," said Manuel Molina of the Mexican environment agency, Semarnat.

The escaped animals were contained in a lake inside the nature reserve surrounding the breeding centre, and could not get out, he said.

The governor of Veracruz state, Fidel Herrera, had earlier said more than 280 crocodiles had escaped during the floods.

Local people had been warned not to approach or try to catch the animals.

The Morelet's crocodiles - an endangered species found in Mexico and Central America - were being bred for conservation purposes at El Colibri wildlife reserve, 40km (25 miles) from the port of Veracruz.

Tens of thousands of people in Veracruz state have been left homeless by floods caused by Hurricane Karl, and at least 12 people have been killed.

The region was already suffering from one of its worst rainy seasons on record when the hurricane struck.

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