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Body of British journalist killed by crocodile found in Sri Lanka

September 15, 2017

Sri Lankan police Friday found the body of a 24-year-old British journalist, Paul McClean, who is suspected to have been killed by a crocodile.

Divers found McClean’s corpse in the mud of a lagoon in the coastal village of Panama, 360 kilometres (225 miles) east of the capital Colombo by road, a police spokesman said.

“There were six or seven wounds on his right leg,” a police official told AFP. “The body was stuck in mud at about the same place where he was seen last by some others who were with him.”

A crocodile is believed to have dragged McClean away on Thursday afternoon, the officer said.

Police said the body was taken to a hospital at Ampara, the nearest town some 80 kilometres (50 miles) away, for a post-mortem examination which could take place over the weekend.

Local magistrate Mohamed Hilmy visited the area where McClean was last seen and ordered an inquest on Monday.

“The magistrate ordered witnesses to be present at the inquest on Monday,” a police official said.

McClean worked for the Financial Times and managing editor James Lamont described him as “a talented, energetic and dedicated young journalist”.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones. We are in touch with them, doing all we can to help during this difficult time,” Lamont said in the paper’s report on his death.

British media reports said McClean was holidaying in Sri Lanka with friends.

He was on a beach and had wandered away to find a toilet when he stumbled into an area known to be frequented by crocodiles.

Other holidaymakers in the area alerted police after McClean disappeared and a search was mounted with the help of navy divers.

Crocodile attacks are rare in Sri Lanka. However, earlier this month, wildlife authorities reported that a crocodile had seriously injured a wild elephant in the south of the island.

During monsoon floods in May, authorities warned people in inundated areas to beware of stray crocodiles.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.