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ANIMAL

Escaped deadly cobra still on the loose in German town

A cobra was still on the loose in the western German town of Herne on Wednesday, with local residents told to keep their windows closed and steer clear of long grass.

Escaped deadly cobra still on the loose in German town
File photo shows a cobra. Photo: DPA

The metre-long snake, a monocled cobra whose bite can be fatal, has been missing since Sunday after escaping from its owner in the city of Herne, near Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Four buildings in the area where the snake was last seen have been evacuated with residents in the surrounding area told to shut all doors and windows.

The 30 residents who've been moved out will not be able to return to their apartments until further notice.

Local authorities said the evacuated buildings will “remain locked and we will be regularly checking for any trace of the snake”.

“Of course, this is not nice for the residents, but security must come first,” added a city spokesman.

“We assume that the snake will most likely remain in the building” where its owner lives.

Residents have been warned to keep windows and doors covered. Photo: DPA

As The Local reported on Monday, one method of tracking the cobra involves spreading flour in the buildings under surveillance in the hope the snake will leave a trail.

READ ALSO: Authorities search for missing cobra near Bochum

Locals should remain vigilant and “if possible, stay on paved paths and avoid walking in tall grass or dense vegetation,” urged the spokesman.

The owner has already had around 20 other snakes seized from his collection since raising the alarm.

“We are waiting for a snake experts' assessment”, added the spokesman.

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POLICE

What you need to know about German police ‘Rambo’-style Black Forest manhunt

In scenes reminiscent of the film "Rambo", police in Germany's Black Forest are hunting for a homeless man wearing combat gear and armed with a bow and arrow among other weapons.

What you need to know about German police 'Rambo'-style Black Forest manhunt
Police officer standing to cordon in a residential area in Oppenau during the manhunt. Photo: DPA

What's happening?

Several hundred officers were combing the forest with the help of special forces, helicopters and sniffer dogs on Monday after the man went missing on Sunday.

Police in Oppenau, in south-western Germany, warned local residents to stay at home and not pick up any hitchhikers.

They released a photo of the 31-year-old suspect, who has a bow and arrow, a knife and at least one gun and is known to the police for previous offences, including illegal possession of firearms.

The authorities did not name the suspect, but the Bild tabloid identified him as Yves Rausch, also publishing a photo of him dressed in military fatigues.

Police said they were informed on Sunday morning that a suspicious man was hanging around a hut in the forest.

Four officers sent to the scene said the suspect cooperated at first when approached.

But then he “suddenly and completely unexpectedly” threatened them with a firearm, leaving them “no time to react to the dangerous situation,” police said.

Police are searching for this man. Photo: Oppenau Police/DPA

The man made the officers hand over their weapons before running away, “presumably” taking their firearms with him.

Police described the man as about 170 centimetres (5.6 feet) tall, slim, with glasses, a goatee beard and a bald head.

READ ALSO: German police search for armed man on the run in Black Forest

They said he had spent time in the forest before and had been spotted there as recently as Saturday, so he presumably knew his way around the terrain.

Man spent time in prison

Bild said he lived above a local guest house for three years before being evicted for not paying his rent about a year ago.

He had odd jobs as a rail worker and a golf course caretaker, a former neighbour was cited as saying, describing him as “not an easy person”.

Various weapons and petrol canisters were found in his apartment after he was evicted, as well as a small shooting range in the attic, according to Bild.

The man then reportedly lived in his car by the local swimming pool for a while before moving into the hut at the edge of the forest.

According to Bild, he spent time in prison for shooting his girlfriend with a bow and arrow.

A police spokesman was cited as saying the man was in a state of “psychiatric emergency” and should not be approached.

The police weapons were P2000 semi-automatic pistols that can hold up to 16 bullets each, according to Bild, meaning the man could have an extra 64 shots at his disposal.

By Sebastien Sauges

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