Crocodile kills a British man in Australia

A British man has been killed by a crocodile while snorkelling in a supposedly safe stretch of sea off the north coast of Australia.

The body of Russell Harris, 37, was found shortly after he disappeared from a trip at Groote Eylandt, in the Northern Territory.

Saltwater crocodiles can kill wild buffalo and other large animals His wife was waiting on nearby Picnic Beach and raised the alarm when he failed to return.

Last night Mr Harris's sister, Georgina, 35, was flying out to Australia from her home near Nottingham. His parents, Jackie and Donald, abandoned plans to fly out when his elderly mother collapsed at the news of his death and was taken to hospital where she was under sedation, unaware of how her son had died.

Mr Harris, a miner, had been working in the area for five months as a technical services superintendent at the island's manganese mine, which is operated by Gemco, a division of the Anglo-British mining group BHP Billiton.

Picnic Beach is popular among swimmers, although police said it was not unusual for crocodiles to be seen in the area. Mr Harris was snorkelling with friends on Saturday afternoon when he vanished. His badly injured body was found less than a mile away on Sunday morning and police said his injuries were consistent with an attack by a saltwater crocodile. A 13ft specimen had been seen near the area.

Stephen Pfitzner, senior sergeant, said Mr Harris's death was a "shocking tragedy" and that if police were unable to capture the animal and move it to a less populated area, they would have to shoot it.

Mr Harris's body was flown to Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. A post mortem examination was expected to be held today. Last night Mr Harris's brother, Tony, 50, said that he loved snorkelling and many other sports.

Russell was "very dear to my mum" and she had only been told that he had drowned because the family feared that telling her the full story would worsen her condition. His father was with her, "but he is very frail, too".

Saltwater crocodiles, which are up to 23 feet long, can bring down and kill wild buffalo, feral pigs and other large animals. Australian law protects them from hunters, Daily Telegraph reports.

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