Crocodile suspected of killing woman with dementia

Authorities in northern Australia are searching for a crocodile suspected of killing a dementia patient who wandered away from a nursing home, police said.

Human remains were found, along with Anne Cameron's clothes and walking stick, near a creek bank yesterday, two days after the 79-year-old went missing from a nursing home in Port Douglas in Queensland state, Police Inspector Ed Lukin said.

Officers suspect the elderly woman wandered into tropical forest and became disorientated, triggering an extensive search.

The remains were found about a mile (2km) from the nursing home.

Pathologists in Cairns confirmed today that the remains were human, Mr Lukin said.

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"We strongly suspect now that there has been involvement of a crocodile attack given the location of those items and the human remains ... close to a watercourse," he added.

While police were waiting for the results of further forensic tests, Mr Lukin said it was "highly likely" that the remains were Ms Cameron as no-one else had been reported missing in the area.

State rangers set crocodile traps yesterday night and searched surrounding waterways by helicopter and boat today, he said.

The woman's granddaughter, Isabella Eggins, posted on social media that the family "have the firm belief that my nan Anne Cameron has passed away in tragic circumstances".

Crocodiles are territorial, and killer crocodiles are usually caught near the scene of attacks.

Government wildlife director Michael Joyce said he was confident of catching the crocodile, and urged the public to report any "abnormal" crocodile behaviour.

The killer crocodile "may show a level of boldness that is different from other crocodiles in the river," Joyce said.

Crocodiles have been a protected species in Australia since the 1970s, which has led to an explosion in their population across the country's tropical north.

Because saltwater crocodiles can live up 70 years and grow throughout their lives - reaching up to 23ft (7m) in length - the proportion of large crocodiles is also rising.

- AP

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