Australian police find remains of missing child after suspected crocodile attack

Australian police have found what appeared to be the remains of a 12-year-old child who went missing after a suspected crocodile attack.

The child went missing on Tuesday afternoon after going for a swim near the remote Northern Territory community of Palumpa, around 350km from Darwin, police said.

“This is devastating news for the family, the community and everyone involved in the search,” senior police sergeant Erica Gibson said on Thursday.

She said the recovery of the remains was “particularly gruesome, and a sad, devastating outcome”.

“Police are providing support to the family and community, along with the first responders who attended the scene.”

Ms Gibson said police were working to trap the crocodile believed to be responsible for the child’s death.

“Investigations will continue, that is a long and protracted matter,” she said. “The search element will still continue insofar as the croc traps and monitoring the activities in the waterways.”

The victim belonged to the remote Aboriginal community of Nganmarriyanga, also known as Palumpa. The family was visiting the creek for holidays, police told ABC Radio.

Police said they discovered the child’s T-shirt upstream on Wednesday and their search had shifted to the recovery stage.

Ms Gibson said the remains indicated injuries consistent with a crocodile attack.

"It was an extremely difficult 36 hours for the first responders involved in the search," she said.

Members of the community in Palumpa had joined the search led by Northern Territory police.

The Northern Territory is home to some 100,000 saltwater crocodiles that are larger and more dangerous to humans.

The territory has a population of 252,469 but only about 364 people live in Palumpa, according to federal data.

Last month, a crocodile that had been terrorising people in the Northern Territory was killed and eaten by villagers. The reptile was blamed for devouring pets and chasing children and the local authorities deemed it a “significant risk to the community”.

Police said they shot the crocodile after consultation with traditional owners, elders, community members and the Parks and Wildlife officials.

In January, a nine-year-old boy was left fighting for life after being attacked by a crocodile while swimming in the territory.

Last year, an Australian man dramatically escaped an attack by a saltwater crocodile after prising its jaws off his head. Marcus McGowan, 51, from Brisbane, was snorkelling at a luxury private island resort on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia when he was attacked.