Urban myths and tall tales?

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iol nws aug 10 ns python . The website www.hoax-slayer.com reported that a viral social media message claimed 'the snake swallowed a woman near Durban North, South Africa in early June 2013.'

Durban - The tragedy of two Canadian boys killed by an African rock python is not the only attack to have received wide coverage. The picture supposedly shows a python captured after eating a woman in Durban North.

This week the IOS received a tip-off that someone in Durban had been killed and swallowed by a python and there was a picture of it with a human body inside. A vet had to cut the victim out of the serpent for burial.

The website www.hoax-slayer.com reported that a viral social media message claimed “the snake swallowed a woman near Durban North, South Africa in early June 2013. According to the message, the incident was witnessed by a South African reporter named Linda Laina Nyatoro and it was this reporter who first sent out the photograph.

“The claims in the message are untrue. The very same picture has been circulating in other contexts since at least September 2012.”

Earlier versions had variously claimed the snake in the picture swallowed a drunken man asleep by a roadway, a man in Jakarta, Indonesia after floods hit the region, and a snake expert tending to the animal.

None of these variants to the story had been confirmed by any credible news reports.

Eleven years ago, there was a report of an African rock python eating a 10-year-old boy near the township of Lamontville. It was even covered by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.

For three hours other children hid in mango trees near Lamontville, too terrified to flee, as the snake first trapped the boy and squeezed the life out of him before consuming him whole, it reported.

“The hunt found no trace of the child, or his clothing, except for a trail of flattened grass leading down to a nearby stream.” No follow-up to the incident could be traced.

On Monday in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Connor Barthe, six, and his brother Noah, four, were killed by a python while on a sleepover in the house of a family friend who owned an exotic pet shop.

Investigators now believe the python was being held not in the pet shop downstairs but in the owner’s flat, in a large glass tank in the room adjacent to where the boys slept.

The 4.5m python escaped its enclosure, slithered through the ventilation system and fell through the ceiling in the living room where the boys slept.

Preliminary autopsy results showed that they died of asphyxiation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

The tragedy has shocked the community of 7 000 and reverberated across Canada. - Independent on Saturday

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