By , Jenny Awford and Maryse Godden
Published September 18, 2017
A Financial Times journalist was killed by a crocodile while washing his hands at a lagoon in Sri Lanka during a holiday with pals.
Paul McClean, 25, an Oxford University graduate, is understood to have wandered away from his group of friends to find a toilet when he was attacked.
The British victim is believed to have been dragged under water at a lagoon called Crocodile Rock near a popular surf spot after being ambushed by the reptile.
McClean graduated from Oxford with a First class honors degree in French in 2015 before joining the Financial Times later that year.
He had covered Brexit and the European Union for the newspaper and had recently returned to London after living in Brussels for a couple of months.
The lagoon, known to be crawling with crocodiles, is yards away from popular surf spot Elephant Rock near Arugam Bay on the southeast coast.
Sri Lankan police and the army are said to be searching the shore surrounding the area.
Locals claimed the victim had been staying at the East Beach Surf Resort - located just minutes away from the surfing area he went missing from.
Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School, located up the coast from where the incident happened, said: “A local fisherman witnessed a man being dragged into a river, set back from the beach, by a crocodile. The fisherman was on the opposite side of the river and downstream of the incident location."
He added:“This is the first known crocodile attack in Sri Lanka. Both tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is a beautiful secluded beach and very safe.
“Crocodiles in Sri Lanka live only in the fresh, back waters of the jungle. It is almost unheard of for them to come close to the beach. The salt water actually turns them blind.
“Local search and rescue teams are working alongside the police and British Embassy in attempt to locate the man's body."
Meanwhile, a Scottish tourist, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “A British tourist was at a surf spot called Elephant rock.
"There's a lagoon right next to the sea. He went to the toilet next to the lagoon and was grabbed by a crocodile.
“There are lots in the lagoon. People last saw his arms in the air in the water and then was grabbed under. I was there but didn’t see it happen though. Horrible."