Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 15:30 UK

Stray snake halts Indian assembly

By Sandeep Sahu
BBC News, Bhubaneswar


The snake eluded the search team

A snake on the loose has brought panic to the legislative assembly of the Indian state of Orissa.

The assembly had to be adjourned for the day and legislators rushed outside after a cleaner spotted the reptile inside the assembly building.

Forest officials, policemen, sniffer dogs and workers on a snake helpline have been scouring the assembly but the search has so far proved futile.

A member of the search team said it was possible the snake had already left.


A cleaner saw the snake, believed to be a cobra, an hour-and-a-half before assembly proceedings were to begin.

After the cleaner raised the alarm, assembly members rushed out of the building in panic.

A 40-member search team, including forest department officials, policemen with sniffer dogs and workers at a local snake helpline looked for the elusive serpent.

"I hope the snake is found soon. And the democratic work of the legislature continues normally," state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.

At around 5pm [1130GMT], the assembly was adjourned for the day.

One man engaged in the search said it was possible the snake had already slithered out.

In 2006 snake charmers in the state had threatened to unleash snakes inside the assembly unless their demand for lifting a ban on snake charming was met.

Correspondents say it is unlikely that the charmers had a role in Thursday's incident.

But the Orissa state assembly is no stranger to disrupted proceedings.

In the past the legislators have been responsible for disturbances by hurling footwear, breaking microphones and playing musical instruments.

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