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Police: Australian boy likely killed by crocodile

January 28, 2014

DARWIN, Australia (AP) — Rangers searching for a 12-year-old boy who was snatched by a crocodile in northern Australia recovered evidence on Tuesday strongly suggesting the boy died in the attack, police said.

Officials have been searching by land, water and air for any trace of the boy since he was taken by the crocodile as he swam in a water hole in a popular Outback tourist destination on Sunday. One of the boy’s friends was mauled in the attack.

“Search teams have now located evidence within the search area which strongly indicates the boy has died from the crocodile attack,” Northern Territory Police Acting Commander Michael White said in a statement Tuesday. “Further DNA testing will be conducted to confirm the identification. No specifics will be given in relation to the trauma or type of evidence located out of respect for the family.”

The boy was snatched as he and four other boys swam Sunday at Mudginberri Billabong in World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, southeast of the Northern Territory capital of Darwin. Moments before he was taken, the crocodile attacked one of the boy’s friends, who received deep lacerations to his arms as he fought off the creature, estimated to be around three meters (10 feet) long.

Rangers on Monday shot two crocodiles during their search for the boy, who is from the small Aboriginal settlement of Mudginberri, west of the uranium mining town of Jabiru. Neither of those crocodiles was believed to be the killer.

Crocodiles were once hunted to near extinction in Australia, but their numbers have exploded across the country’s tropical north since the species was protected by federal law in 1971. They are most plentiful in the Northern Territory, where Kakadu National Park is located, and signs posted throughout the park warn visitors not to swim in most waterways because of the risk of attack.

A 26-year-old man was killed by a 4.7-meter (15-foot, 5 inch) crocodile last August as he swam across the Mary River, southeast of Darwin.

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