Crocodiles spotted as Australian city deliberately flooded - in pictures

Queensland government warns citizens to stay out of water after floodgates opened to relieve overflowing dam

Crocodiles have been spotted across the northern Australian city of Townsville over the weekend, after authorities decided to open a nearby river dam amid severe flooding in the region.

The Guardian reports that residents in the Queensland city, where “up to 500 homes are already under water”, were “urged to seek higher ground on Sunday” after heavy downpours led to the decision to completely open floodgates to the city’s swollen Ross River Dam.

A “heavy deluge of rain” pushed dam levels to almost 250% capacity on Sunday, and opening the floodgates “almost doubled” the amount of water flowing out of the catchment, the newspaper adds.

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“You can expect high velocity flows and unprecedented areas of flooding to occur in the Ross River Catchment,” Australian Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson Bruce Gunn told locals. “It could change continuously and unpredictably.”

Sydney-based site reports that residents of the city have “expressed simmering frustration” over the decision to open the dam, claiming they were “caught out by record water releases”.

Local people have also reported multiple sightings of crocodiles in Townsville, and shared photos of the killer reptiles on social media.

A three-metre (10ft) crocodile was reportedly spotted by emergency services in the city on Sunday night.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has warned residents to remain vigilant, saying that both crocodiles and snakes could turn up in unexpected places during flooding, reports local paper the Townsville Bulletin.

“Crocodiles prefer calmer waters and they may move around in search of a quiet place to wait for floodwaters to recede,” Enoch said. “Crocodiles may be seen crossing roads, and when flooding recedes, crocodiles can turn up in unusual places such as farm dams or waterholes where they have not been seen before.”

Snakes are also “very good swimmers”, she said, adding: “If you see a snake, don’t attempt to catch or remove it”.

Meanwhile, a tweet by Queensland Police said the city’s residents should refrain from “playing in flood waters” as they may be “wading in [their] neighbour’s faeces”.

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