Two men checking crab pots from a small aluminum boat were suddenly tossed into crocodile-infested waters when one crocodile intentionally capsized their boat Tuesday morning in a creek near Gunn Point, about 24 miles northwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.
For three hours, a 72-year-old fought off approaching crocodiles, throwing spark plugs and wrenches and other items, but he was unable to save his friend who became trapped under the overturned boat in Leaders Creek.
"They tried to climb back on the boat and it further capsized and that's when his mate was caught underneath it and drowned," Ian Badham, director of CareFlight NT, told the Australian Associated Press via The Guardian.
"As he was trying to crawl to shore near the mangroves he had to use a spanner [wrench] and sparkplugs, throwing things and banging at other crocs trying to get to him…It was just a sheer act of desperation and survival."
The man managed to push the boat into the relative safety of the mangroves, CareFlight wrote in a Facebook post.
Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that other crabbers in the area heard the man's shouts for help and rescued him, taking him back to the boat ramp, along with the drowning victim's body. He was said to be in his 50s.
The survivor was flown by CareFlight to a hospital in Darwin.
"The man has been left suffering from severe shock and dehydration and exposure," Badham told The Telegraph.
Numerous fatal crocodile attacks in recent years have been recorded in the Northern Territory, home to about 100,000 crocodiles, and evidence of crocodiles attacking boats is increasing, authorities say.
Coroner Greg Cavanagh, who described a death of a man who was knocked off his boat by a crocodile last year, told ABC that there was no regulation regarding the size of boats in the Northern Territory. He recommended warnings be changed to include the message that "saltwater crocodiles can attack people in boats and the smaller the boat the greater the risk."
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