Crocodile attack woman missing after late-night swim off Australian beach


A woman struggled in vain to drag her friend from a crocodile's jaws during a late-night swim off an Australian beach.

The pair were in shallow water at Thornton Beach in the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park in Queensland state when the 46-year-old woman was taken by the crocodile at 10.30pm local time on Sunday.

Thornton Beach in the Daintree National Park (a_terracini/Flickr)
Thornton Beach in the Daintree National Park (a_terracini/Flickr)

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."

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 teams.

The missing woman is from Lithgow in New South Wales state.

The survivor, from Cairns, 58 miles south of Thornton Beach, was taken to a hospital in Mossman suffering from shock and a graze to her arm inflicted as the crocodile brushed against her, Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman Neil Noble said.

"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 two women were not locals and might not have been aware that the area was well known as a crocodile habitat, police said.

The saltwater crocodile is one of Austalia's deadliest creatures
The saltwater crocodile is one of Australia's deadliest creatures (Federherz/Thinkstock)

But Warren Entsch, who represents the area in the Australian parliament, said the beach was beside a creek where tourism operators run crocodile-spotting tours.

He said the two tourists had to have seen plentiful crocodile warning signs in the region.

"You can't legislate against human stupidity," Entsch said. "If you go in swimming at 10 o'clock at night, you're going to get consumed."

The attack occurred near where a five-year-old boy was taken and killed by a 14ft crocodile from a swamp in 2009 and a 43-year-old woman was killed by a 16ft croc while swimming in a creek in 1985.