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BERLIN (AP) _ Swimmers were barred from a stretch of the Rhine on Wednesday as German forest rangers searched an island for a crocodile that has eluded authorities for five days.

The nearly 5-foot-long reptile was first sighted in the waters last Friday in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Police boats and helicopters entered the hunt Tuesday after the crocodile was spotted downstream on Mariannenaue island, west of the city of Wiesbaden, in the state of Hesse.

Hesse state police told bathers to stay out of the waters around the island while the search continued.

Police said the crocodile was likely released by a private owner who could no longer cope with its size and appetite.