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Tributes paid to UK journalist ‘killed by crocodile’ in Sri Lanka

Paul McClean was reportedly washing his hands in the river when he was attacked by the reptile.

Tributes have been paid to a “talented, energetic and dedicated” journalist who was reportedly killed by a crocodile while on holiday in Sri Lanka.

Financial Times reporter Paul McClean was said to have been washing his hands in the river when he was attacked by the reptile.

The 24-year-old Oxford University graduate is thought to have been staying with friends at the East Beach Surf Resort near Elephant Rock in the south-east of the island.

A search operation was launched and it is understood Mr McClean’s body has now been recovered.

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Paul McClean who was reportedly killed by a crocodile while on holiday in Sri Lanka (Financial Times/PA)

Staff at the paper have been left “heartbroken by the tragic and untimely death”, a statement said.

James Lamont, managing editor of the Financial Times, said: “Few details are known about the circumstances.

“We are liaising closely with his family and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and offering the FT’s assistance. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones.

“We are in touch with them, doing all we can to help during this difficult time.”

Mr McClean, originally from Thames Ditton in Surrey, was “a talented, energetic and dedicated young journalist” he said, adding that he had “a great career ahead of him at the FT”.

The journalist, who described himself on his Twitter profile as a “long-suffering Evertonian”, worked on the paper’s fastFT desk, and had been based for a time in Brussels reporting on Brexit and the EU.

He was described by Katie Martin, head of fastFT, as “a warm, funny person and a talented young journalist with a curious mind” and “a joy to be around, truly, with an impish sense of humour”.

Mr McClean was seen by a local fisherman being “dragged into the river” by the crocodile, said Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School.

He told reporters the journalist had gone into the jungle to go to the toilet just before the incident happened and later washed his hands in the water.

Mr Lafeer, who said crocodiles have been known to hide bodies in the mud, added that it is “almost unheard of” for the reptiles to come so close to the beach, describing Elephant Rock as a “beautiful secluded beach and very safe”.

A representative of the Foreign Office is understood to be travelling to the area to support Mr McClean’s friends.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We are assisting the family of a British man following his tragic death in Sri Lanka, and will continue to do so at this very difficult time.

“Our staff remain in contact with the Sri Lankan police and navy.”

A spokeswoman for Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, said: “We are distraught to hear of Paul’s untimely death.

“He was a brilliant student, remembered not only as a gifted linguist but as a friendly, approachable, energetic and inquisitive young man.

“He would have had a stellar career and we send our sincerest condolences to his family.”

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