Several viral videos showed a large crocodile attacking a child and dragging him under the water despite the father battling the reptile to save his son, according to authorities.
The incident happened Thursday morning at a river in Lahad Datu in Malaysia’s Tawau Division of Sabah where the father and his son were fishing in a canoe when they were attacked, Yahoo News Australia reported.
The father, identified by the Asian American news website NextShark as Moherat, reportedly tried to fight off the 11-foot crocodile who then quickly disappeared under the water with his 1-year-old son in its jaws.
“Despite the man’s best efforts, he ended up with numerous bite wounds and could not stop his son being dragged underwater,” said Sumsoa Rashid, head of the Lahad Datu Fire and Rescue Agency. “There are several viral videos showing how the victim was attacked by the crocodile and then grabbed before being dragged to a nearby river.”
Rashid added that Moherat was taken to a hospital to treat his injuries, including bite marks and a deep wound to his head, which were incurred while he was trying to stop the crocodile.
“The father suffered serious head and body injuries. His son is still missing and search operations are ongoing,” Rashih said according to the Daily Mail. Villagers were able to save the father, a Palauh tribesman who is reportedly in his 40s.
A video circulating online showed the crocodile appearing to the surface of the water with the boy’s body trapped in its jaws. The Royal Malaysian Police and the local fire department have been trying to locate the child’s remains, while officials warned villagers who live near the river to stay out of the water as the crocodile hasn’t been captured yet.
“Many residents there rely on the river for their food and livelihood so they need to go into the water,” Rashid said, the Daily Mail reported. “We have warned them of the extra dangers at the moment and to be especially careful because the crocodile is likely to be still in the area.”
Crocodiles, known for being fierce creatures with strong jaws and 80 razor-sharp teeth, often attack humans in areas where they are natives. Around 1,000 people are killed every year by crocodiles, according to the animal encyclopedia AZ Animals and CrocBITE, a database containing global crocodile attacks. However, it is hard to document the exact number of crocodile attacks annually because some of them happen in remote areas and go unreported.
In August, a video circulated online showing a huge crocodile swimming in a lagoon with a dead man’s body in its jaws. Passers-by who spotted the reptile alerted authorities after they saw the body of the 25-year-old man, who was snatched by the crocodile after he entered the lagoon.
The man reportedly ignored signs at the park that warned people against swimming in the water, according to police.
Newsweek reached out to the Royal Malaysian Police for comment.
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