A pair of Army soldiers were attacked by a crocodile north of Lockhart River, Queensland, apparently while swimming near a coastal fishing village on the Cape York Peninsula. 

The crocodile left one man in a serious condition with head and upper-body injuries, then turned to attack his comrade, who rushed to the rescue and tore open his arm around 4 p.m. on Friday, Oberon Review reported.

A boat, a helicopter, and a light plane were involved in rushing both men to the hospital.

The most severely wounded man, who was in his early twenties, was confirmed to be in a critical but stable condition by the ambulance service. The other man, in his early 30s, was injured in the wrist and arm but was also in a stable condition.

They reported that the man in his 30s stabbed the crocodile with a knife before driving their tender back to the main vessel, which is where they received treatment by the ship’s medic. 

Denis O’Sullivan of the Queensland Ambulance Service said the pair’s chance of survival was very low if not for the other Army personnel close by. 

O’Sullivan said the younger victim had a narrow escape from death, considering his wounds and the degree of his blood loss.

O’Sullivan said that having an army medic at the scene “most certainly” saved the young man’s life, who was bleeding “very badly” after the crocodile attack. 

“Stopping bleeding is one of the first priorities and the tourniquet was vital in assisting this person to a good recovery,” said O’Sullivan.

The saltwater crocodile was estimated to be over 10 feet long (3 meters).

The defense department has not revealed whether the men were attacked while on duty, and an investigation was carried out.

“Our immediate focus is on providing the necessary medical treatment for the soldiers involved, and supporting their families who have been informed,” it said, according to ABC. “The incident is under investigation, as such, the defence will not provide any further detail.”

Meanwhile, Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher confirmed they were swimming in an area where the creatures’ presence was known. 

“Two blokes have been swimming in croc-infested waters. One got attacked and the other one … tried to help,” he said. “They’re found and in safe hands … I’m hoping that they’re well.” 

Butcher said the Cape York Peninsula was swarming with crocodiles.

“There’s a lot of crocodiles on the Cape York Peninsula. In rivers, estuary systems and even out in the ocean along beaches,” he said, adding a warning note that “Wherever you see a sign saying croc-infested waters,  please be careful or don’t even enter.”

O’Sullivan later updated that they were fishing in the area. 

“It’s reported, I believe, that both persons in the location were going to do some fishing,” he said, per Oberon Review. “I’m not sure why both persons were in the water at that time, or if they were in the water.”

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