Crocodile warnings have been issued after ‘once in a century’ floodwaters submerged an Australian city.
One of the deadly reptiles was spotted lurking in shallow waters at the end of a driveway, while another has been seen in a partly-submerged tree.
More than 1,100 people have been evacuated after authorities deliberately released a dam following a week of record rainfall.
Up to 20,000 homes in Townsville, a coastal city in northeastern Queensland, are at risk from the rising waters – with more rainfall forecast.
In a warning to residents, the region’s environment minister Leeanne 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.
“Similarly, snakes are very good swimmers and they too may turn up unexpectedly.”
The Ross River dam above Townsville was measured at 247% capacity on Sunday night, before the authorities decided to release it to avoid a collapse.
Opening the dam released up to 1,900 cubic meters of water a second, flooding thousands of homes.
The Australian army has been deployed to deliver around 70,000 sandbags to households and help rescue residents.
Emergency crews using boats and helicopters to evacuate locals have received more than 1,000 calls for help.
Townsville has had more than a metre (3.3ft) of rain following a week of deluges – more than 20 times the average for the time of year.
“This is unprecedented, we’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“It’s basically not just a one-in-20-year event, it’s a one-in-100-year event.”
Queensland Police issued a stark warning to residents to stay out of flood waters, which could be contaminated by sewage.
In a statement on Twitter , the force said: “If the thought of coming face to face with a crocodile isn’t deterrent enough, before you start playing in flood waters you should always remember the distinct possibility you could be wading in your neighbour’s faeces. Yes. Their faeces.”
The Bureau of Meteorology said the heavy rain could continue until Thursday.
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