A python escaped from its enclosure at a pet store in Canada, worked its way through a ventilation system into an upstairs apartment and strangled two young boys as they slept, police have said.
The brothers, Connor and Noah Barthe, aged five and seven, were visiting the apartment of Mr Jean-Claude Savoie, a close friend of their mother.
Mr Savoie owns Reptile Ocean pet store in New Brunswick city of Campbellton.
Police arrived at the apartment around 6.30am on Monday and found the two boys dead, AP reported. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed the deceased were the two boys.
A friend of the boys was sleeping in another room and was unharmed, RCMP constable Julie Rogers-Marsh said.
"It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake," the constable said.
The African Rock Python was captured and was in the possession of police, she said.
She said: "It's very, very unusual and very tragic and difficult for everyone involved."
Store owner Jean-Claude Savoie called the incident tragic.
"My body is in shock. I don't know what to think," he told local television station Global News. "I feel like they're my kids," he said.
He said he went into the living room where the kids were sleeping, and discovered a gruesome sight. "I thought they were sleeping until I (saw) the hole in the ceiling. I turned the lights on and I (saw) this horrific scene. (The snake) went through a ventilation system. I don't understand how it did it. It went through the ceiling… and the snake fell through the living room from the ceiling.
"I found the snake... I pinned him down and put him in a cage."
Mr Savoie said the python is not normally handled by anyone, including the two children.
The town's deputy mayor, Ian Comeau, said Reptile Ocean was licensed to operate and "everything was according to our bylaws."
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