Body of Financial Times journalist killed by crocodile found in Sri Lanka

Paul McClean was on a beach holiday with friends when locals heard him screaming for help as he was pulled into a river by a crocodile

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 3:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 10:40pm

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 east of the capital Colombo by road, a police spokesman said.

“There were six or seven wounds on his right leg,” a police official said.

“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, but a postmortem examination later Friday would formally establish the cause of death.

McClean, who worked for the Financial Times, was holidaying with friends near Arugam Bay on the island’s southeast coast.

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

Locals heard him screaming for help as he was pulled into a river by the crocodile, according to an eyewitness cited by the BBC.

“By the time they went to the spot where the croc attacked, they couldn’t save him because already the crocodile had pulled him inside the water so they couldn’t see what was going on,” Fawas Lafeer, the owner of a surf school, was quoted as saying by the BBC.

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

McClean, who graduated from Oxford with a first class honours degree in French, had worked for the newspaper for two years – his first job following his graduation.

He had covered the EU and Brexit, having spent a couple of months living in Brussels this year.

A friend, who asked not to be named, described McClean – whom she met at university – as “very smiley and smart”.

The FT said on its website that the cause of death had not been established but that McClean’s body had been identified by friends.

“Few details are known about the circumstances,” said Managing Editor James Lamont.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones

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.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters, The Guardian