Phuket On Alert For 'Giant Crocodile'

(4 November) Phuket residents have been told to be on the lookout for what appeared to be a crocodile which was seen swimming off the shore in Haad Mai Khao Beach on the weekend.

The maritime protection centre in the province said it had received reports that the creature was sighted just off the shore in Haad Mai Khao, where local fishermen like to cast their nets.

Mr. Prarop Plang-ngan, director of the provincial National Parks agency, said his team had observed a large crocodile, no less than 3 metres long, swimming around 400 metres away from the beach.

He said the crocodile surfaced only for few minutes before diving down again, which made it very difficult for the officials to determine its type.

The director added that the creature was seen swimming northward along Phuket′s shore, which is lined  with a number of popular beachside hotels. "We have sent out warnings to these hotels so that foreign tourists would be barred from swimming in the sea for the moment," Mr. Prarop said.

However, the centre has not received reports of any sighting since yesterday, he said, and the crocodile is expected to land somewhere in the province by tonight.

Anyone who has sighted the crocodile is encouraged to inform the officials via the phone number 0-7634-8526.

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