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from (Record Searchlight, Redding, CA)


German tourist killed in crocodile attack in northern Australia

Associated Press

October 23, 2002 — 7:37 a.m.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - A 13-foot crocodile killed a German tourist who was swimming in one of Australia's largest national parks, police said Wednesday.

The 24-year-old woman, whose identity was not released, was in a waterhole in Kakadu National Park in northern Australia late Tuesday when she disappeared. Witnesses said they heard her scream and she vanished beneath the water.

James Rothwell, 24, of Essex, England, said he felt a crocodile brush against his leg. "Seconds later I heard a girl scream and the girl went under the water."

Rothwell said people on shore thought it may have been a gag. But when he reached shore, he cast a flashlight on the water and "saw two red eyes going away from where the girl had just gone under, and we saw the outline of a crocodile swimming along the surface of the water."

Police from the nearby town of Jabiru and park rangers searched through the night for the woman after the leader of her nine-member tour group called authorities on a satellite phone.

Park rangers retrieved the girl's body Wednesday morning after harpooning and killing a 13-foot crocodile slightly more than a mile from where the woman was attacked.

"The harpooning caused the crocodile to let go of what he had," Northern Territory Police Commander Max Pope said.

Pope said the tour group ignored signs warning about the danger of crocodiles. The park contains both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles. The park's Web site warns visitors against swimming in natural pools, recommending instead the Jabiru swimming pool.

Crocodile numbers have boomed in the Kakadu National Park since they became a protected species in 1971, but attacks are rare.

Located more than 150 miles east of Darwin, Kakadu is a U.N. World Heritage site and attracts 200,000 tourists annually. Covering 12,000 square miles of pristine floodplain and plateau, it boasts spectacular waterfalls, a tower 125-mile sandstone escarpment and many rare and endangered animal species.

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