A young boy out swimming with friends and missing since being attacked by a saltwater crocodile on Sunday may have been located, Northern Territory officials said Tuesday. Nature World News reported Jan. 30 that what appeared to be human remains had been found in the vicinity of the waterhole where the 12-year-old boy was last seen.
The boy, whose name has not been released by authorities, was snatched in the water by the crocodile while he was swimming with friends in Mudginberri Billabong in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. Another boy was first attacked by the crocodile and bitten on the arm as he fought the reptile off. It was then that the animal turned its attention on the 12-year-old.
Police sergeant Stephen Constable described the incident (per CNN): "The 15-year-old boy was grabbed on his right arm. He started fighting off the croc, and it took him by the left arm; then it let him go and took hold of the 12-year-old boy, and swam off with him."
The saltwater crocodile, called "salties" by Australians, are the largest reptiles on Earth. They can grow as long as seven meters (around 23 feet long) and weigh as much as a ton.
"Search teams have now located evidence within the search area which strongly indicates the boy has died from the crocodile attack," acting Commander Michael White, of the Northern Command, said.
"Further DNA testing will be conducted to confirm the identification," he added.
White refused to give specific details of the condition of the remains out of respect for the family. However, media speculation points at the word "evidence" to mean that a body was found.
While searching for the missing boy, two crocodiles were shot and killed, their stomachs slit open. No human remains were found.
A Kakadu National Park spokesperson noted that the area where the 12-year-old boy was attacked was heavily posted as a danger zone for crocodiles. One sign even reads: "Croc risk; do not swim here, do not enter."
The saltwater crocodile is responsible for hundreds of deaths each year. In fact, crocodiles are one of the deadliest animals on Earth, killing as many as 2,500 people worldwide annually, according to a 2010 Pravda report. The big reptiles are 168 times more dangerous than sharks, which kill or maul an average of 15 people every year.
The last crocodile attack resulting in a death occurred in August 2013 when a man swimming across the Mary River -- also in Northern Territory -- was suddenly taken under by one of the large reptiles.