DARWIN, Australia (AP) — A 26-year-old birthday party goer has been snatched by a 5-meter (16-foot) crocodile while swimming in a notorious habitat of the dangerous reptiles, police said on Sunday.
The man, whose name has not been released, was celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday on Saturday at the Mary River Wilderness Retreat, an Outback tourist destination 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of the Northern Territory capital Darwin, the victim’s hometown, Senior Sergeant Geoff Bahnert said.
The victim and another man had gone swimming across the river. The pair were swimming back when the crocodile attacked, he said.
“Several of the group in the party witnessed the male being taken in the jaws of the croc for a period of time, and then he was out of sight,” Bahnert said.
“The Mary River is known worldwide to have the greatest saturation of adult saltwater crocodiles in the world. You don’t swim in the Mary River,” he said.
Alcohol may have played a part in the decision to swim, he said.
Police and a government crocodile management team arrived at the resort late Saturday, and an officer shot one of the largest crocodiles found in the area for the safety of searchers, he said.
It was not yet known if it was the killer crocodile.
Teams were dragging the river in search of remains, Bahnert said.
“The advice to tourists is to come, look, take photographs and stay out of the water,” he added.
Crocodile numbers have exploded across Australia’s tropical north since the species was protected by federal law in 1971. The crocodile population is densest in the Northern Territory and is promoted as a major tourist attraction.