A woman is missing and feared dead after a crocodile attacked her while she was swimming with a friend in Australia, police said Monday.
Her friend was "extremely traumatized" after struggling in vain to drag the victim from the jaws of the animal during the attack Sunday in northern Queensland's Daintree National Park, according to officials.
The women were in waist-deep water on Thornton Beach when “they felt a nudge” and one of them “started to scream and then was dragged into the water” by what they believe was a crocodile, Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman Neil Noble told Australia’s Channel 7 News.
Queensland State Police Senior Constable Russell Parker told reporters that the 46-year-old victim “screamed out” and her 47-year-old friend “attempted to drag her out of the water and get her back onto the beach but unfortunately she wasn’t able to do so.”
Noble said emergency services found the victim’s friend with a graze on her arm, which they believe may be from the crocodile, and transported her to the hospital where she was in a stable condition “but obviously extremely traumatized by the event.”
The victim, who was from outside the local area, was visiting friends — including the one who tried to save her.
A search of the area was carried out immediately after the attack, which happened at about 10 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) Sunday. Police said efforts would continue to find the missing woman.
"Look, obviously there's grave concern for her safety, but we will continue this as a search and rescue mission and we'll continue on that vain,” said Acting Inspector Ed Lukin of Queensland State Police.
The local area was “well-known for crocodiles,” he added. "Be croc wise … you need to be very aware of what you're doing."
Ernie Dillon, a local crocodile hunter told 7 News that crews had been searching along the beach and nearby creeks since Sunday night.
“We’ve been up all night and this morning,” Dillon said.
The attack happened near a creek where tourism operators run croc-spotting tours, but local lawmaker Warren Entsch rejected calls for a cull.
"You can't legislate against human stupidity," the member of parliament told the AAP news agency. "This is a tragedy, but it was avoidable. There are warning signs everywhere up there.
“People have to have some level of responsibility for their own actions. If you go in swimming at 10 o'clock at night, you're going to get consumed,” Entsch told the agency.