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Australian fisherman battles crocodiles with wrench, spark plugs

An elderly fisherman survived hours among circling crocodiles after one of the animals capsized his boat in north Australia. His companion drowned under the upturned vessel.

The two tourists were pulling crab pots into their boat when a crocodile tipped them over, an official said on Wednesday.

As the men scrambled to get back on the boat, one of them became trapped under the 3-meter (10 feet) hull and drowned.

The 72-year-old survivor told rescuers he tried to pull the boat ashore. However, he allegedly got stuck in the mud with

three or four crocodiles

circling him, prompting him to start throwing tools at the predators.

"He was using spanners and spark plugs to hold them at bay," said Ian Badham, who works for the Australian aeromedical charity CareFlight.

Eventually, the man reached nearby mangroves, where he spent the next three hours, before a group of professional crab catchers, heard his cries for help.

Trouble with crocs

The man suffered from "severe shock and dehydration and exposure," said Ian Badham to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Badham's CareFlight flew the elderly tourist to a hospital in the nearby city of Darwin, north Australia.

There are about 100,000 wild crocodiles in Australia's Northern Territory and

they kill

an average of two people every year.

Last month, a 19-year old camper managed to fight off a crocodile that bit into his foot while he was asleep near a riverbank.

dj/jm (AFP, AP)

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