A woman was found dead in the belly of a python that had swallowed her whole, police in the central Indonesian province of South Sulawesi said on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old woman disappeared after leaving her home on Tuesday morning to buy medicine for her sick child, police said. Her worried relatives then went looking for her.

Her husband discovered her shoes and trousers on the ground about 500 metres from their home in the village of Siteba.

“Soon after, he spotted a snake, about ten metres from the path. The snake was still alive,” local police chief Idul, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.

The husband became suspicious after noticing the python's “very big” belly, added Iyang, a village official. He then called villagers to help him cut open the snake's stomach, where his wife's body appeared.

Such incidents are extremely rare, but several people have died in Indonesia in recent years after being swallowed by pythons.

In early June, a 45-year-old woman was found dead in the stomach of a reticulated python, about five meters long. The incident took place in the same province of South Sulawesi, also known as Celebes, but in a separate village.

Last year, residents of Tinanggea district in southeastern Sulawesi killed an eight-metre python that was found strangling and swallowing a farmer.

In 2018, a 54-year-old woman was found dead inside a seven-metre python in the southeastern town of Muna. The year before, a farmer in West Sulawesi was eaten by a four-metre python on a palm oil plantation.

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