While vacationing with friends in Sri Lanka, British journalist Paul McClean, 25, became the first person to be killed by a crocodile.
A Financial Times journalist and Oxford University graduate, McClean is said to have wandered away from his group of friends to find a toilet when he was attacked. Authorities say he was dragged under water at a lagoon called Crocodile Rock, which is located near a popular surf spot, after being ambushed by the dangerous reptile. That particular lagoon, hence its name, is known to be crawling with crocodiles.
McClean had covered Brexit and the European Union for the newspaper and had recently returned to London after living in Brussels for a couple of months.
Crocodile Rock is just yards away from a popular surf spot called Elephant Rock, near Arugam Bay on the southeast coast.
Sri Lankan police and the army are searching the shore surrounding the area for his body.
Locals said the victim had been staying at the East Beach Surf Resort, which is situated just minutes away from the surfing area where he was killed.
Fawas Lafeer, the owner of a nearby Surf School, recalled, “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 added, “This is the first known crocodile attack in Sri Lanka. Both tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is a beautiful secluded beach and very safe. 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. The salt water actually turns them blind.”
According to a Scottish tourist who was in the area at the time, “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 [he] was grabbed under. I was there but didn’t see it happen though. Horrible.”
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