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UK teenager reportedly attacked by crocodile on gap-year trip in Zambia

·3-min read

A British teenager has been reportedly attacked by a crocodile while travelling with friends on a gap-year holiday in southern Africa.

Amelie Osborn-Smith, from Andover, Hampshire, was white water rafting in the Zambezi below Victoria Falls in Zambia when the reptile pounced at her, MailOnline reports.

The 18-year-old’s father said his daughter had been resting her leg over the side of the boat when the crocodile bit her and dragged her under the water.

Osborn-Smith, who was backpacking after finishing her A-levels at school in Winchester, was reportedly saved by a friend who punched the crocodile on the nose until it released her. She has been airlifted to hospital in the capital, Lusaka, about 240 miles (380km) away, where she is being treated for serious injuries to her leg.

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls. Osborn-Smith was reportedly saved by a friend who punched the crocodile on the nose until it released her. Photograph: Andrey Gudkov/Alamy

Her father, Brent Osborn-Smith, told reporters: “She wasn’t actually swimming but just sitting on the boat and the crocodile saw her leg dangling in the water and thought: ‘There’s lunch.’

“She’s in a pretty bad state at the moment in Zambia and we’re doing our best to try and get her back to have some proper definitive care here, but obviously with a crocodile bite there’s a huge risk of infection and she’s got a very severely damaged leg. It’s quite a distressing situation.

“She’s been stabilised as best they can but it’s still pretty touch and go.”

He said Zambia was on the Covid red list, presenting further challenges in getting his daughter home.

An unnamed friend of Osborn-Smith’s told reporters: “As soon as it happened the male friend dived under the water and started punching the crocodile furiously. Then others jumped in to help. It was chaos. There was blood and people thrashing everywhere. She is lucky to be alive.”

Osborn-Smith was reportedly white water rafting with Bundu Rafting, based in Livingstone in Zambia. The company has been operating in the Victoria Falls area since 1996.

Its website says: “Be assured that we don’t compromise on safety issues on the river. Our trip leaders are the most experienced guides around: some with 20 years rafting on the mighty Zambezi.”

Another rafting company that operates in the area says on its website that the “Nile crocodile is endemic to the Zambezi River” but adds “they are not a problem”.

An adult male is usually between 2.94 metres and 4.4 metres in length and weighs between about 225kg and 414kg, although crocodiles exceeding 6.1 metres in length have been recorded.

In 2018, a woman canoeing above Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe with her fiance had her arm bitten off by a giant crocodile.

Zanele Ndlovu and Jamie Fox, from south-east England, were out in an inflatable raft when the reptile attacked and punctured the vessel.

Ndlovu fell into the water and her right arm was bitten off above the elbow, just days before her wedding.

She was taken to hospital where medics saved her life, and she was married in the hospital chapel the following month.

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