A 58-year-old diver in Sri Lanka was mauled to death by a crocodile while he was swimming in the seas off the Dehiwala coast.

The incident took place Monday, local media reports said. Authorities said the diver, who had been engaged in poaching activities, was in the waters when the crocodile leaped onto him and dragged him away. Locals rushed to rescue him, following which he was taken to the Kalubowila Hospital where he succumbed to injuries, according to media outlet Newswire.

The victim's name has not been revealed by the local media.

A search operation has been launched by a team from the Attidiya Wildlife Office to capture the saltwater crocodile responsible for the attack. Eyewitnesses claimed the crocodile that attacked the diver was nearly 14-foot-long, Newswire reported.

After the incident, the fishermen in the area immediately ventured into the sea and pulled out the remaining divers onto their fishing boats and brought them to safety.

According to local experts, there have been reports of crocodiles in the sea off the Dehiwala area on several previous occasions. Although the Department of Wildlife in collaboration with the navy have launched various operations to trap these crocodiles, they have not been successful due to the transient nature of the reptiles, Colombo Page reported.

Saltwater crocodiles grow to a length of more than 23 feet and weighs over 2,200 pounds, making them the largest reptiles on the planet. Saltwater crocodiles of this size are capable of eating just about any animal that strays too close to them, according to Oceana.

In a similar incident, a crocodile attacked and dragged a teenager into a deep river while he was fishing in November. The incident took place in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. The victim – identified as Soumyaranjan Mallick of Kaharaganda village – was near the water body when the crocodile leaped out and dragged the boy away. His younger brother raised an alarm after he noticed the crocodile attacking Soumyaranjan. Within minutes some locals rushed to the spot and carried out a search operation.

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