SYDNEY  - Australian police searching for a 7-year-old girl feared taken by a crocodile Saturday said finding what appeared to be human remains inside a three-metre reptile was a “heartbreaking” development. An extensive search began at first light for the girl who was last seen swimming at the natural pool at an outstation about 340 kilometres (210 miles) east of the city of Darwin on Friday afternoon. The girl was swimming with other children and an adult at the time. “Witnesses have told police that a crocodile attacked the male adult before pulling the girl under water,” Senior Sergeant Shaun Gill said. “The crocodile is estimated to be about 2-3 metres (6.6-10 feet) in length.”

Police searching the waterhole shot dead a three-metre crocodile at the Gumarrirngbang Outstation on Saturday and an examination of the animal revealed what are believed to be human remains in its stomach. “Further forensic testing will be conducted in Darwin to determine if the remains are human and if found human, the identity of the person,” said Gill. “This is now a matter of investigation and a report will be prepared for the coroner.” An earlier search by police and volunteers on Friday failed to find the child and extra police were flown to the remote area about 100 kilometres from the Aboriginal community of Maningrida. “Everyone involved in this search has been working under difficult conditions. This is a heartbreaking outcome for the family and the community,” said Gill. Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven metres (23 feet) long and weigh more than a tonne, are a common feature of Australia’s tropical north.