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An Oxford graduate and a journalist with the Financial Times, Paul McClean, 24, was dragged into a river near Arugam Bay, according to witnesses.
Fawas Lafeer, owner of the nearby Safa Surf School, told the BBC that the man was washing his hands in the river when he was attacked.
"Fishermen saw him attacked by the crocodile and then screaming to the surfers to come and help.
"By the time they (surfers) went to the spot where the croc attacked, they couldn't save him because already the crocodile had pulled him inside the water.
So they couldn't see what was going on," he said.
Financial Times Editor Lionel Barber said: "Paul McClean was an outstanding young journalist with a great future at the FT. We will miss him sorely."
The Financial Times said McClean's body was identified by friends he was vacationing in Sri Lanka.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)