UK journalist reported missing after crocodile attack near Arugam Bay

A UK journalist was killed by a crocodile while washing his hands at a lagoon in Sri Lanka during a holiday with friends, the British and Australian media reported.

Paul McClean, 25, who worked for the Financial Times, is understood to have wandered away from his group of friends to find a toilet when he was attacked, reports The Sun.

The British victim, from Surrey, southwest of London, was seen “waving his hands in the air” in desperation before being dragged under water at a lagoon called Crocodile Rock near Arugam Bay.

McClean graduated from Oxford with a First Class Honours degree in French in 2015 before joining the Financial Times later that year.

He had covered Brexit and the EU for the newspaper and had recently returned to London after living in Brussels for a couple of months.

The lagoon, known to be crawling with crocodiles, is not far from popular tourist surf spot Elephant Rock, near Arugam Bay on the southeast coast.

Sri Lankan police and the army are said to be searching the shore surrounding the area.
Locals claimed the victim had been staying at the East Beach Surf Resort, located just minutes away from the surfing area he went missing from.

Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School located up the coast from where the incident happened, heard what happened from some locals who witnessed the attack.

“A local fisherman witnessed a man being dragged into a river, set back from the beach, by a crocodile. The fisherman was on the opposite side of the river and downstream of the incident location,” he said.

Mr Lafeer was shocked, saying that crocodile attacks are relatively unheard of in Sri Lanka.

“Both tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is a beautiful secluded beach and very safe,” he said.

“Crocodiles in Sri Lanka live only in the fresh, back waters of the jungle. It is almost unheard of for them to come close to the beach.

“Local search and rescue teams are working alongside the police and British Embassy in attempt to locate the man’s body.”

Meanwhile, a Scottish tourist, who is currently on holiday in the area and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “There’s a lagoon right next to the sea. He went to the toilet next to the lagoon and was grabbed by a crocodile.
“There are lots in the lagoon. People last saw his arms in the air in the water and then was grabbed under. I was there but didn’t see it happen though. Horrible.

“They are searching for a body but haven’t found anything yet.
“The army were down and there are people out on boats checking the shore because crocodiles won’t eat anything in water — they will take it on to dry land to eat prey.”

He also said that some locals who witnessed the incident had discussed the possibility that he may have fallen into the lagoon because of quicksand.

“They are 90 per cent sure it was a crocodile but a couple of the guys said there was quicksand in the lagoon,” the tourist said.

“A few people that knew the guy were just on the ground, I didn’t get that close but they all just seemed in shock and not saying much.

“There were a large crowd of Sri Lankan men surrounding them and they had bits of paper.”
Australian tourist Sean Carroll, from New South Wales, was also holidaying in the area.
“A croc just took a tourist bloke in Sri Lanka,” he wrote on Facebook.

“He was walking on a beach where a small river meets the sea, it’s named Crocodile Rock for that reason obviously.
“He still hasn’t been retrieved from river. Heavy.

“I’m sure he was close to the river for it to take him. Police looking and army too.”

There are two different kinds of crocodile that live in Sri Lanka, the Marsh, or “mugger”, crocodile and the saltwater crocodile.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told The Guardian: “We are assisting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Sri Lanka.” (Colombo Gazette)

Update: Body of British journalist killed by crocodile found by Navy


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