Friday, 19. December 2014
28. 08. 14. - 16:00
Terrified neighbours fled their homes in China when they were invaded by more than 150 deadly venomous cobras.
The snakes measuring between 20 and 30 centimetres - who were being kept by a distiller to make the ancient delicacy snake wine - had escaped into an alley in Foshan, a city in south-eastern Guangdong province, causing chaos.
"We had more than 100 calls in a few minutes," said a police spokesman.
"They were popping up through cracks in walls, down gutters, out of drains, in alleyways and side-streets. Everywhere all at the same time. People were hysterical and were begging for people to come and catch the snakes," he added.
So far only 100 of the deadly reptiles have been recovered by local snake experts.
Neighbour Wei Niu said: "Their owner has been warned before about the security of his premises. It isn't right to have so many dangerous snakes close to people."
Another neighbour said: "At first it was just a few children claiming they had seen the snakes and we didn't take it too seriously, but then everybody began to notice them. They were everywhere."
Police confirmed that a team of snake experts are currently trying to capture the rest of the reptiles, but admit it could take some time until they are all caught.
Meanwhile the snake's owner Lu Zhong admitted 'losing' the snakes, although he is not sure how they escaped: "I keep lots of snakes as we make snake wine. One day I returned to find many snakes missing. They had managed to escape."
"I have been helping to catch the runaway snakes and so far have managed to catch around 30, the experts have caught about 70, but there are still around another 50 at large.
"I am very sorry about the incident and will take better care in the future."
Zhong faces a fine and will have to pick up the bill for the rescue operation of the snakes.
The tradition of drinking snake wine dates back more than 3,000 years in China to the early Zhou Dynasty.
It is an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol.
Fans believe the snake's venom - diluted in alcohol - becomes a health tonic that can restore the body's natural balance.
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