SYDNEY – A 24-year-old man was snatched by a crocodile Saturday in front of at least 15 onlookers as he swam across a northern Australian river with a friend, police said Sunday.
Northern Territory police said the man was with a group celebrating a birthday at the Mary River Wilderness Retreat, just over 100 km southeast of Darwin, when he decided to plunge into the water.
“They were watching him swim across,” Senior Sgt. Geoff Bahnert said. “And they just saw a crocodile with him in its jaws.”
Police conducted a search for the man, but were unsuccessful. The search continued Sunday, Bahnert said, adding that the largest crocodile at the site had been shot and killed as a precaution.
Reports suggested the men had ignored warnings not to swim in the river because of the risk of a crocodile attack.
“We tell people to stay away from the water. They obviously went against this, (and) a man was taken,” an employee of the resort, Erin Bayard, told News Corp. Australia.
“We say to everybody: ‘It’s full of crocs. It’s one of the most populated rivers in the territory; every couple of kilometers, there is a large croc.’ “
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to 7 meters long and weigh more than 1 ton, are common in Australia’s tropical north.