'He would have had a stellar career': Tributes flood in for Brit journalist killed by a crocodile
Tributes have been paid to a "talented, energetic and dedicated" journalist who was reportedly killed by a crocodile while on holiday in Sri Lanka.
Paul McClean, who worked as a reporter on the Financial Times fastFT desk in London, is missing after the huge reptile grabbed him and dragged him underwater at a lagoon called Crocodile Rock.
The 24-year-old was last seen "waving his hands in the air" after being seized by the crocodile as he washed his hands in the jungle.
It was said that he had gone to the area for a surfing lesson and had wandered away from friends to go to the toilet.
Sri Lankan police and the army were searching the shore and surrounding the area for the Oxford-educated journalist's body.
A spokeswoman for Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, said: "We are distraught to hear of Paul's untimely death.
"He was a brilliant student, remembered not only as a gifted linguist but as a friendly, approachable, energetic and inquisitive young man.
"He would have had a stellar career and we send our sincerest condolences to his family."
James Lamont, managing editor of the Financial Times, said: "Few details are known about the circumstances.
"We are liaising closely with his family and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and offering the FT's assistance.
"Our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones.
"We are in touch with them, doing all we can to help during this difficult time."
The area is known for its large population of crocodiles and is just yards away from the popular Elephant Rock surf point on Sri Lanka's east coa st.
Mr McClean, raised in Thames Ditton, Surrey, graduated from Oxford with a first class honours degree in French in 2015.
He then began his journalism career with the Financial Times.
Recently, he had been covering Brexit and the EU in Brussels before returning to London, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The Telegraph reported that he was the victim of Thursday's crocodile attack, which occurred just days after he arrived in the country.
A colleague at FT said: "We're all totally stunned. He was a great kid, an Everton fan, super bright. It's an absolute tragedy."
Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School, located up the coast from where the incident happened, said the man was attacked at about 3.15pm.
He said: "He came here for a vacation and he wanted to learn how to surf, so someone from t he hotel he was staying in took him to learn, they are not an instructor.
"It was at Elephant Rock, he was learning to surf and after that he wanted to go to the toilet.
"He went in the jungle, about 800 meters. It was when he was washing his hands that the crocodile took him."
He added: "There is a river connected to Elephant Rock, and he went in the river. They can't do anything because the river is deep and murky, it is not very clear.
"They have sent out the Navy, Army and the task force, but I doubt they will find the body.
"The crocodiles take the bodies along river and hide them in the mud, so I don't think he will be found until the day after tomorrow.
"Two fisherman saw the incident. This is the first time anything like this has happened, Elephant Rock is always safe to surf.
& quot;He chose to go to the toilet in the jungle, and while he was washing up that's when it happened.
"He came here with his four friends to spend time in Sri Lanka.
"Historically this is the first time something like this has happened in the area. I had a surf camp there last night, and we are all fine. I do one every week."
The attack left fellow holidaymakers stunned.
A Scot who is currently on holiday in Sri Lanka 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.
"They are searching for a body bu t haven't found anything yet.
"The army were down and there are people put on boats checking the shore because crocodile won't eat anything in water they will take it on to dry land to eat prey."
The Scot tourist, who asked not to be named, added: "They are 90% sure it was a crocodile but a couple of the guys said there was quicksand in the lagoon.
"A few people that knew the guy were just on the ground, I didn't get that close but they all just seemed in shock and not saying much.
"There were a large crowd of Sri Lankan men surrounding them and they had bits of paper."
Another shocked man, Sean Carroll, from New South Wales, Australia, posted about the incident on Twitter, writing: "A croc just took a tourist bloke in Sri Lanka."
Sean added: "He was walking on a beach where a small river meets the sea, it's named Crocodile Rock for that reason obviously.
"He still hasn't been retrieved from river. Heavy.
"I'm sure he was close to the river for it to take him. Police looking and army too."
Locals have said the man was staying at the East beach Surf Resort.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are assisting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Sri Lanka."Video Loading Click to play Tap to play The video will start in 8Cancel Play now
There are two different kinds of crocodile that live in Sri Lanka - the marsh, or 'mugger', and the estuarine.
There are believed to be thousands of marsh crocodiles spread throughout various water bodies in the island.< p>In April of this year, a 13-year-old girl was attacked and dragged away by a crocodile while she was enjoying a day out with her family at Pulnewa Lake, in Galnewa.
The girl was reported missing by her family, who said they saw her being dragged into the water by the large reptile.
Prior to this, in July 2016, a 60-year-old Sri Lankan man was also killed in a crocodile attack.
He had been fishing in the Paayindan River in Sammanthurai when he was attacked.
A 57-year-old woman was also killed in 2014, in the Ambalantota area.
In November last year a massive 17ft crocodile, which weighed nearly a ton, was found jammed in a waterway in the southern city of Matara.
Another 17ft crocodile was captured by locals in the village of Thibbotuwawa, Akuressa, in June this year.Source: Google News