An eyewitness has described how a crocodile attacked a British woman “three or four times” before the animal was fought off by her twin sister in Mexico.
Melissa Laurie is in an induced coma in the Ángel del Mar hospital in the Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Escondido, where both she and her twin sister Melissa are recovering from their ordeal.
Hana Laurie, the twins’ elder sister told BBC Breakfast that Melissa is in a serious condition and that she had developed sepsis after bite marks to her legs and stomach had become infected.
Her twin sister Georgia is expected to be discharged today.
Elliott Scott was part of the group swimming in the Manialtepec lagoon in Oaxaca when the crocodile struck.
The group, who had gone on a tour to the world-famous bioluminescent lagoon, was swimming a short distance from a popular tourist spot when they spotted something in the water.
“We were swimming in another part of the lake and then all of a sudden somebody noticed there a was a movement – we thought it was a log – they poked their head up – nope, it [was] a crocodile,” Elliot told The Independent, evidently still in shock.
As the group turned to swim to safety, Melissa was “dragged under the water and started thrashing,” he said.
“It attacked her probably three or four times,” explained Elliott, “until Georgia went over and was punching it in the face, like a hero… until it went away and she had to drag her sister to safety by her hair. It was terrifying.”
“There was nothing anyone could do, because between us and them was the [crocodile]. So, we were trying to throw things, trying to get it away but there wasn’t much we could do. It was all very fast,” he said.
The group were told that while there were crocodiles in the lagoon, it was perfectly safe for tourists if they stayed away from the mangrove roots and if trained tour guides took appropriate measures to ensure that local wildlife was kept away.
However, Elliott says they are unsure if the guide they used had the appropriate qualifications to work in the region. By law, qualified guides must learn how to protect tourists from crocodile attacks. When asked about the guide, he said the group were unclear as to who he actually was.
“Nobody knows and now he’s fled. We thought he was a guest at the hostel, the way he approached us like ‘Oh, we’re going to go on a little trip, I know this Mexican family, we can take you here, we can do this - no worries - quite cheap, we’ll do it. There was no other information.”
“We were told we can’t swim in the sea, but you could swim in the mangroves,” said Elliot.
Despite asking if there were crocodiles in the mangrove roots that lined the lagoon, they were explicitly told by their guide that there were not, and it was safe to swim, he said.
According to local police, the tour guide – who has not been named – has been arrested by the Guardia Civil after fleeing the scene of the attack. He is currently being held in nearby Tutepec pending further investigation.
A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office told Sky News earlier today that they were “supporting the family of two British women who are in hospital in Mexico and are in contact with the local authorities.”
“Many people claim to be tour guides” says Campos “but they aren’t able and have never been trained to look after a group.”