In an area notorious for crocodile attacks, a 10-year-old has been eaten alive in front of his older brother and sister.
The boy was attacked while crossing a river near his home in the southern Philippines, German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports.
He was reportedly snatched from his boat near the town of Balabac, while his two older siblings watched on in horror.
The crocodile dragged its victim out of the back of the small wooden boat on Monday, regional police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Socrates Faltado said.
The child’s father searched through the night for his son but was unable to find his body.
His half-eaten body parts were later found by a fisherman in a nearby mangrove area.
The latest attack comes after authorities captured a 4.75m saltwater crocodile in the same area last year. The animal was suspected to have attacked and killed a crab fisherman from the town. The man was killed just three months after his 12-year-old niece was also dragged away by a crocodile in late 2017. She was never seen again.
While croc attacks have been previously recorded in the town, the number of attacks has spiked in recent years.
“Since 2015, we’ve never had a year with zero (crocodile) attacks” in Balabac, said Jovic Pabello, a spokesman for a government council working to conserve the environment of the Palawan island group (including Balabac).
“It’s a conflict on water use,” he told AFP.
In February this year, another boy, 12, was attacked while swimming in the same river. Luckily, the boy managed to tear himself free of the creature’s jaws when his siblings began hitting its head with their oars.
As the country’s economy and population experiences rapid growth, it’s thought the saltwater predators — which can grow to be over 5 metres long and weigh up to a tonne — are being forced out of their natural habitats and hunting closer to townships.
Saltwater crocodiles once roamed the Philippines, but a century of habitat depletion, dynamite fishing and hunting has left them in just a scattering of places. They are now a protected species.
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest living reptiles, with the biggest ever measured found in this area of the Philippines in 2011. The monster specimen, named Lolong, was captured with steel cable traps during a three-week hunt after a child was killed in 2009 and a fisherman went missing. After breaking Guinness World Records as the largest croc in captivity — measuring 6.17m long — Lolong died from a mystery illness 17 months after he was caught.