US Secret Service startled by lizards

United States Secret Service agents were taken aback on seeing large water monitors wandering the grounds of Government House during security inspections yesterday ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit.

They mistook them for the ferocious, carnivorous komodo dragons found in parts of Indonesia, a Government House source said.

Thai officials calmed their nerves, explaining to them the creatures are relatively harmless.

Monitor lizards are commonly found at Government House as the compound is surrounded by canals.US embassy officials accompanying the team told the agents the reptiles could also be found at the US embassy office on Witthayu Road.

The US security officers also paid special attention to antique cannons at the Government House's lawn. They inspected them carefully and inquired about the objects.

Thai officials told them the cannons are relics of the King Rama VI era and have no cannonballs. They were placed at the Government House for decorative purposes only.

Meanwhile, a US explosive ordinance disposal team said five locations which Mr Obama will visit during his two-day visit to Thailand starting Sunday have been thoroughly checked.