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Man killed by crocodile on Australia's East Alligator river

A man has been killed by a crocodile while he attempted to wade across a flooded river in Australia's Northern Territory. Authorities are increasingly exasperated that people continue to make the dangerous crossing.

The man had been trying to cross the East Alligator River on Thursday with two women when he suddenly disappeared.

Both the man's companions made it across the fast flowing river, which is well-known as a crocodile hotspot. Rangers carried out a search and found the body, which was taken to the city of Darwin to be autopsied.

The crossing provides the only route into the restricted-access aboriginal Arnhem Land. There is no bridge, with the river overflowing a concrete crossover that is regularly closed to vehicles.

"The signs are saying not to swim or even go in the water at Cahill's Crossing," said police sergeant Bob Harrison. "There's been a lot of media attention around that crossing. People continue to do it."

"Cahill's Crossing is notorious for crocodiles and to walk across it to me is just foolishness," Harrison told the CNN news network.

Popular, but risky crossing

The man, aged 47, was described by West Arnhem mayor Lothar Siebert as "witty," adding that many people walked across the ford, some 300 kilometers (190 miles) east of Darwin, including children.

The death is the first such tragedy since last May when a 46-year-old woman went missing during a late night swim in Queensland's Daintree National Park, despite the presence of multiple warning signs.

According to local media, aboriginal communities have resisted proposals to build a bridge out of concern that access to the area throughout the year might lead to too many visitors.

Saltwater crocodiles became a protected species under Australian federal law in 1971, since when estimated population numbers have soared from about 3,000 to more than 80,000 in the Northern Territory alone. The animals kill an average of two people per year and publicity about recent attacks has reignited the debate about controlling them.

rc/rt (AFP, Reuters)