Aboriginal teenager taken by crocodile
Published 21/02/2011 | 11:27
A 14-year-old Aboriginal boy is presumed to have died after he was attacked by a crocodile while swimming in a river in remote northern Australia.
The boy, who was playing with his brothers in a creek on Milingimbi Island, about 250 miles east of Darwin, has not been seen since he was bitten by a large crocodile on Sunday morning.
His brothers, who speak limited English, told police that he had been swept down the river by the tide following the attack.
A large-scale air, land and sea search failed to find any sign of the boy, and police have warned that they were unlikely to find him alive.
The river empties into the sea and saltwater crocodiles are known to live in the area.
Helen Braam, Northern Territory police superintendent, said officials were interviewing the young witnesses to get more information but grave fears were held for the boy.
"As you can imagine, the community is quite devastated and shocked by what's happened," she said.
"I guess there is always hope (that he will be found alive), but I think it unlikely.
"I think we're looking for a body."
The attack came days after residents of Australia's Northern Territory were urged to stay out of waterways after torrential rains and wild winds caused flooding.
The incident is likely to revive the debate over the culling of crocodiles, which now outnumber humans by two to one in the Northern Territory.
Each year, an average of two people die from saltwater crocodile attacks in the state.
The most recent deadly attacks were in 2009 when a 20 year old man was taken while swimming with his brother at night in a Darwin river.
Just weeks before, 11-year-old Briony Goodsell was killed by a 9ft crocodile while swimming with friends in a swamp on the outskirts of the city.
The Northern Territory is estimated to have more than 80,000 saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to 23 feet long and are the world's largest reptile.
In 1971 both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles protected by federal law after being hunted close to extinction. Their numbers have since flourished.
Plans to manage the growing population have been limited to small, organised hunts, despite widespread calls for significant culls.