A ‘talented’ British journalist has been killed by a crocodile while on holiday in Sri Lanka.
The victim was identified as Financial Times journalist Paul McClean, who was vacationing with friends when the tragedy occurred Thursday in a lagoon near Aragum Bay, according to The Telegraph.
“He was learning to surf and after that he wanted to go to the toilet,” Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School north of where the incident occurred, told The Telegraph. “He went in the jungle, about 800 meters. It was when he was washing his hands that the crocodile took him.”
The Sun reported that the man was staying at the East Beach Surf resort and was on a surfing outing organized by the hotel.
Witnesses reported seeing the victim “waving his hands in the air” in a desperate plea for help before being dragged underwater.
“A local fisherman witnessed a man being dragged into a river, set back from the beach, by a crocodile,” Lafeer told The Telegraph. “The fisherman was on the opposite side of the river and downstream of the incident location.”
Police and other officials were called to the scene, but the body has yet to be recovered.
“They can’t do anything because the river is deep and murky, it is not very clear,” Lafeer told The Telegraph. “They have sent out the Navy, Army and the task force, but I doubt they will find the body.
“The crocodiles take the bodies along river and hide them in the mud, so I don’t think he will be found until the day after tomorrow.”
Lafeer said tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is considered “very safe.”
“Crocodiles in Sri Lanka live only in the fresh, back waters of the jungle,” he said. “It is almost unheard of for them to come close to the beach. The saltwater actually turns them blind.”
But thousands of crocodiles are said to live in various bodies of water on the island located off the southeast tip of India.
In April, a 13-year-old girl was attacked and dragged underwater by a crocodile at Pulnewa Lake in Galnewa, according to the Daily Mail. Last year, a 60-year-old man was killed by a crocodile while fishing in the Paayindan River in Sammanthurai. And in 2014, a 57-year-old woman was killed by a crocodile in the Ambalantota area.