Witnesses say Bonifaçio Sanches, known as ‘Rony’, was killed when a crocodile dragged him under the waters of Lake Ira-Laloro on Friday (Image/supplied)

DILI, 25 May 2020 (TATOLI) – Residents near Lake Ira-Lalaro in Lautem District have found the body of a fisherman, who had been attacked by a crocodile on Friday.

Friends of Bonifaçio Sanches said he had been fishing in the lake around 11:30am when then crocodile attacked. He was 27.

“We all went line-fishing, but we didn’t go at the same time, because he went… to the lake first thing in the morning,” his friend Olderito de Jesus told TATOLI by phone on Saturday.

Mr Jesus said Sanches – better known as ‘Rony’ – was standing in the water close to his uncle just before the attack.

“Then suddenly the crocodile appeared and immediately bit him in the stomach, then dragged him into the water,” he said.

Immediately following the attack, people from the nearby Aldeias of Malahar and Mehara, including a number of fishermen, set out on the lake to find Rony.

“We waited from this morning [Saturday] until the night, but the crocodile is yet to let go of the body… and we’re afraid to go in the water,” an emotional Olderito de Jesus said.

Crocodiles have killed four people in Lake Ira-Lalaro, the most recent in 2014. (Image: Colin Trainor/Wikimedia)

A number of army veterans and members of the National Police even tried to shoot the crocodile, Olderito said, but were unsuccessful. The members continued scouring the area looking for signs of the animal.

However, by Sunday evening, the body appeared.

“We found our friend’s body around 7:30pm here and we brought [him] to his home to set up for a funeral,” Mr Jesus said, in a second phone call with TATOLI yesterday.

Rony lived in the village of Home, near Los Palos. He leaves behind a wife and one child.

According to the CrocBITE database – which tracks fatal and non-fatal crocodile attacks – there have been four deaths in Lake Ira-Lalaro and surrounding swamp; the most recent in 2014. A further 10 people have suffered non-fatal injuries.

More than 80 per cent of attacks occurred while victims were fishing, according to a recent study, which noted a sharp increase in the frequency of attacks.

Journalist: Florencio Miranda Ximenes

Editors: Robert Baird, Julia Chatarina

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