A woman struggled in vain to drag her friend from a crocodile’s jaws during a late-night swim off an Australian beach.
They were in waist-deep water at Thornton Beach, in the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park, in Queensland state, when the woman, 46, was taken by the crocodile at 10:30pm local time on Sunday.
Police senior constable Russell Parker said: “Her 47-year-old friend tried to grab her and drag her to safety, but she just wasn’t able to do that.”
He said the two women were not locals and might not have been aware that the area was well-known as a crocodile habitat.
A rescue helicopter fitted with thermal-imaging equipment failed to find any trace of the missing woman on Sunday night.
The search resumed on Monday with a helicopter, boat, and land-based search teams.
The survivor was taken to a hospital in Mossman.
She was suffering from shock and a graze to her arm inflicted as the crocodile brushed against her, said Queensland ambulance service spokesman Neil Noble.
“The report that we have from the surviving woman is that they felt a nudge and her partner started to scream and then was dragged into the water,” he said.
The attack occurred near where a five-year-old boy was taken from a swamp and killed by a 4m crocodile in 2009, and where a 43-year-old woman was killed by a 4.8m crocodile while swimming in a creek in 1985.
Crocodile numbers have boomed across Australia’s northern tropics, since they became a protected species in 1971, and pose an increasing threat to humans.
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