UK & World News
Canada Snake Attack: Boys Died Of Asphyxiation
Police have confirmed that brothers Connor and Noah Barthe died of asphyxiation after they were strangled to death by a 13-foot-long African rock python in Canada.
Post-mortem examinations on the children's bodies have confirmed the cause of death as a police investigation continues.
The children - aged six and four - were found dead on Monday morning in an apartment above a pet shop in the town of Campbellton, New Brunswick.
The pair had been at a sleep-over with a friend, the son of shop owner Jean-Claude Savoie. Mr Savoie tended to a private menagerie of exotic animals, including the python.
Officials say Mr Savoie did not have a permit to keep the 100-pound snake.
"We were informed that a number of exotic animals were discovered while police were investigating the tragic deaths of the two boys believed killed by an African rock python," said Anne Bull, a spokeswoman for New Brunswick's Department of Natural Resources.
"That species of snake is not permitted in New Brunswick. According to our records, we have never had any involvement with this snake."
Police are treating the apartment as a crime scene and an investigation has been launched into how children became exposed to the predator.
The children's deaths have triggered a wave of emotion in New Brunswick and local people held a candle-light vigil in memory of the boys.
Mr Savoie found the young victims dead on Monday morning and alerted the authorities. Veterinary officials seized the snake and euthanised it.
Animal experts have expressed surprise at the tragedy, many of them noting that, while an African rock python is a dangerous animal capable of killing large prey, it would not normally attack humans.
The deaths have also led to a debate about Canada's laws relating to exotic pets, with overlapping federal, provincial and local regulations leading to confusion over ownership and safety rules.