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Swimmer Sean Cole snatched by giant crocodile in Australian river

Sean Cole was snatched by the crocodile when he went for a swim with a friend in the Northern Territory's Mary River during a birthday party.
Crocodile death australia 2013 08 25Enlarge
Police were searching a northern Australia river for the body of a 24-year-old swimmer snatched by a crocodile during a birthday party along the banks of the Mary River on Aug. 24, 2013. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Police were searching a northern Australian river Sunday for the body of a 24-year-old swimmer snatched by a crocodile during a birthday party.

Sean Cole was among 15 friends celebrating a 30th birthday on the banks of the Mary River Saturday afternoon when he and a friend decided to go for a swim, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

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Minutes later, party-goers watched helplessly from the shore as a 16-foot-long saltwater crocodile grabbed Cole between its jaws and dragged him underwater.

Cole never resurfaced.

Mary River Wildnerness Retreat officials said the men ignored warnings not to go in the croc-infested waters.

"We say to everybody it's full of crocs," retreat employee Erin Bayard told The Associated Press. "It's one of the most populated rivers in the (Northern) Territory. Every couple of kilometers, there is a large croc."

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Protected since the 1970s, saltwater crocodiles are common in Australia's tropical north and can grow up to 23 feet long.

"Takings" are not uncommon. In December, a 9-year-old boy was snatched by a crocodile while swimming in the Northern Territory, just one month after a 7-year-old girl went missing while swimming there.