This is the stuff of nightmares: two young boys were killed Monday morning by a python that had escaped from a pet store in New Brunswick, Canada. The two brothers, aged five and seven, were sleeping in a friend's apartment, located just above the pet store, when the incident occurred.

"It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake," Royal Canadian Police Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh told the CBC.

Authorities believe the snake escaped from its cage and slithered into the apartment through the building's ventilation system. The brothers' friend was sleeping in another room and was not harmed.

“It's very, unusual and very tragic and difficult for everyone involved,” Rogers-Marsh said to the Associated Press, adding that autopsies for the brothers were scheduled for Tuesday.

UPDATE: From the CBC:

RCMP confirmed the snake is an African rock python measuring between 3.5 and 4.5 metres long and weighing approximately 45 kilograms. The non-venomous snake typically kills by constricting its victims.

It's not yet clear how the snake escaped, but police now have it in their possession.

[Image via CBC]

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