SINGAPORE - Bystanders gawked as more than 10 men from Star Pest Control spread out on the grassy slope beside the station on Thursday with orange nets, sticks, ropes and safety harnesses.
The operation? To nab rats that have been running wild in the area beside Bukit Batok MRT station, The Straits Times reported.
However, according to Shin Min Daily News, a total of 22 men were deployed to the area, armed with rat traps and poison.
In a video uploaded on YouTube, pest busters are seen picking up what looked like dead rats from the side of the hill. In another video, the men lay in wait as rats scurried around them.
A Facebook user, 33-year-old Ryan Keith Smith, had posted a video and pictures on Tuesday that showed dozens of rats scurrying around on the slope. He had also emailed authorities and MPs to request for action to be taken.
Residents in the area had complained of a rat infestation which had gotten worse in recent days, according to Lianhe Wanbao.
The rat-catching operation began in earnest on Thursday morning after the video went viral on Wednesday, The Straits Times reported. Pest control officers were seen climbing up the side of the hill to inspect rat burrows at the top.
Channel NewsAsia reported that at least 15 rats have been caught so far.
The manager of the pest control agency told Shin Min Daily News that area has been laid with rat bait laced with a slow-acting poison which will take several days to take effect.
The Chinese evening daily also reported that four injured puppies were rescued from the slopes. The puppies' wounds are believed to have been inflicted by the rats.
According to a joint statement released on Thursday by the Housing Development Board (HDB), the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), and Jurong Town Council, the infestation was caused by people feeding stray dogs in the area.
The statement warned: "Rodents will proliferate whenever food sources are available, due to improper disposal of food or leftovers from the feeding of strays. Rodent control measures will fail as long as the root cause is not resolved."
Authorities urged people to cease feeding of the stray dogs and not to "interfere with stray dog control operations and tamper with traps and other equipment."
According to the statement, other measures have been put in place, including fences to keep the dogs away from the common areas, conducting stray dog control operations, and putting notices to remind the public not to feed the dogs.
The land on which the infestation occurred is state land, managed by HDB for the Singapore Land Authority, The Straits Times reported.