Toddler dragged away by alligator in Disney resort
DESPITE his father's frantic effort to snatch him from an alligator, a two-year-old American boy was dragged away by the reptile from the edge of a man-made lagoon about 600m from Orlando's Disney World on Tuesday night.
The non-stop search launched by police and rescuers failed to locate the child as of yesterday afternoon.
That caused Jerry Demings, the sheriff of Orange County, to speak of dwindling hopes when he updated the media, reported the Blasting News social news website.
The sheriff said the child was a guest from Nebraska who checked in on Sunday at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa with his parents and two siblings aged four and 18, reported Florida's Palm Beach Post. The resort sits on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon.
He said police had not found security footage of the incident but there were eyewitnesses, some of whom described the alligator as between 1.5m and 2m long.
According to what the police had gathered, the reptile came out from the lagoon to attack the toddler when he was playing in shallow water, watched by his father some distance away.
The father rushed to snatch him back but did not succeed and sustained minor scratches on his hands in the struggle, said Mr Demings.
More than 50 law enforcement officers, including two marine units, were actively searching the lagoon for the child yesterday.
Mr Demings said there were signs posted around the lagoon warning that it was not for recreational swimming.
Chad Weber, a wildlife officer of Florida, said there was no report of alligator being sighted in the lake recently.
But a week ago, an alligator was found with a human body in its mouth in nearby Lakeland.
Walt Disney World director of communications Jacquee Wahler said everyone at the resort was "devastated by this tragic accident".
Since 1948, 22 people have been killed by alligators in Florida, reported the BBC's Spanish channel.
Although alligators can be very aggressive, they are a fundamental part of the wetlands in the region, stressed local wildlife officials.