Updated: September 15, 2017 9:01:39 am
A British journalist lost his life after being attacked by a crocodile while washing his hands at a lagoon in Sri Lanka. Reports in the Telegraph claim that 24-year-old Paul McClean, a journalist with the Financial Times, was dragged underwater by the crocodile when he dipped his hands to wash them. The incident occurred at a spot known as Crocodile Rock, which is located barely a few minutes’ distance from a famous surfing beach.
McClean was allegedly seen “waving his hands in the air” in despair as he was pulled down by the reptile, according to the report. Proprietor of Safa Surf School Fawas Lafeer told the Telepgraph that the local search and rescue teams are working closely with the police and British Embassy to locate the man’s body. The surf school is located close to where the incident took place. Lafeer added that McClean was “learning to surf and after that he wanted to go to the toilet. He went in the jungle, about 800 meters. It was when he was washing his hands that the crocodile took him”.
The journalist had reached Sri Lanka just a few days ago with friends for a holiday and had been lodged at a hotel close by. A native of Surrey, he was an Oxford graduate, with a First Class Honours degree in French, which he completed in 2015, before he joined the FT team.
Most of his work as a journalist had been centered around coverage related to Brexit and the European Union. He had also spent a few months living in Brussels before he getting back to London toward the start of the year. An article by him on the champagne industry had come out on Tuesday.
One of McClean’s colleagues responded to the incident with shock saying: “We’re all totally stunned. He was a great kid, an Everton fan, super bright. It’s an absolute tragedy.” McClean is survived by a brother, mother and father.
Unconfirmed accounts claim that the journalist was in the vicinity with his peers when he drifted away from the group to find a place to relieve himself, and ended up in a area which locals knew to be swarming with crocodiles. “This afternoon at around 3.15pm there was an incident involving a tourist at Elephant Rock surf spot, near Aragum Bay. 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. The police were called immediately,” said Lafeer.
“We believe it was a 25-year-old British man by the name of Paul McClean who was on holiday in Sri Lanka with a group of friends. He went surfing at the local surf spot; a trip organised by the hotel he was staying at. He headed away from the beach into the jungle around 900m away from the shore,” Lafeer said, adding, that this is the first known strike by a crocodile in the country.
Lafeer said that Elephant Rock, a secluded beach area, is popular with both tourists and locals alike and has been known to be a safe destination. he said crocodiles in Sri Lanka live only in the fresh, back waters of the jungle, adding that its almost unheard of for them to come close to the beach. “The salt water actually turns them blind,” Lafeer told Telegraph.
He said that search and rescue teams are currently engaged to find the body of the victim. “They can’t do anything because the river is deep and murky, it is not very clear. They have sent out the Navy, Army and the task force, but I doubt they will find the body,” he said, adding, “The crocodiles take the bodies along river and hide them in the mud, so I don’t think he will be found until the day after tomorrow.”
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