Swimmers had a far closer encounter with a crocodile than they expected when their viewing tank collapsed into the water.

A man and a woman had to be rescued after a cable suspending the so called ‘Cage of Death’ at the Crocosaurus Cove attraction in Darwin, Australia, snapped.

Earlier, they were having the thrill of their lives, watching the 18ft salt water crocodile, Choppa, from an acrylic bubble which sits submerged in a pool.

Witness Linda Niehus was among a host of horrified onlookers. She said: “The lady was terribly upset. You could see by her belly. She was breathing hard.

“She looked hysterical.

“The workers looked a bit stunned. I’d hate to think what would happen if that croc was more aggressive. Thank God he was lazy today.”

Another bystander added: “We heard a big bang and the cage came down sideways. We saw glass and bolts on the bottom.”

Staff pulled the cage to the side of the aquarium and got the pair out.