British diver eaten by giant croc

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Posted by on September 27, 2005 at 12:27:51:

BRIT Russell Harris was eaten by a 13ft crocodile as his wife relaxed on a beach nearby, unaware of the horror.

The 37-year-old mine worker was snorkelling with a pal off a remote Australian island when he was snatched by the croc and dragged under the water.

The attack was so swift, neither his 33-year-old friend nor his American wife, who was sitting just 100 yards away, realised what had happened. They launched a search when he hadnít shown up on the shore two hours later.

A police spotter plane, boats and Aboriginal trackers scoured a 60-mile stretch of coastline. His remains were found 18 hours later at the mouth of Eight Mile Creek Ė about a mile from where he was attacked off Groote Eylandt, on Australiaís northern coast.

Police sergeant Steve Pfitzner said: "We strongly suspect the man was a victim of a crocodile attack. There were a number of marks on the body and there was a crocodile found very close by. Itís a popular tourist spot. We are advising everyone to be careful."

Russell, of Eastwood, Notts, moved Down Under five months ago to work as a manganese mine superintendent for Gemco, part of Brit group BHP Billiton.

A spokeswoman for the company said: "Our priority at the moment is to offer support to the family and also our employees."

Russellís parents Jackie and Donald, who live in Eastwood, had planned to fly out to Australia after hearing of the tragedy. But Jackie was rushed to hospital suffering from shock last night.

As Russellís sister Georgina, 35, flew out yesterday, his devastated brother Tony, 50, said: "The news has hit everyone really hard.

"The shock has sent my mum into hospital. My dad is with her, but he is very frail, too. She doesnít know the full circumstances and has just been told Russell drowned."

Itís the second fatal saltwater crocodile attack in the area in weeks. Last month, a 60-year-old fisherman was dragged to his death.

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