Crocodile ‘saw lunch’ and attacked British backpacker, 18, who dipped leg in river

The teenager is expected to return to the UK this week for more urgent medical care

Lamiat Sabin
Thursday 02 December 2021 16:02
<p>The crocodile attack happened in a river below the Victoria Falls in Zambia </p>

The crocodile attack happened in a river below the Victoria Falls in Zambia

A British teenager was almost killed by a crocodile when her friend came to her rescue by “furiously” punching the reptile underwater.

Amelie Osborn-Smith, 18, was rafting in the Zambezi River below the Victoria Falls in Zambia during her gap-year adventures.

The crocodile chomped on her leg with its powerful jaws, after she dipped it into the water over the side of the canoe, and yanked her into a death roll in an attempt to drown her.

Her male friend jumped into the water and repeatedly hit the animal to make it release her.

A source told The Sun: "As soon as it happened he 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 ... She was in quite a bad way. They patched her up as best they could and arranged an emergency med-evac.”

Amelie, who is from Hampshire and went to school in Winchester, was airlifted to hospital in the Zambian capital Lusaka for surgery to save her life and limb.

Her father Brent Osborn-Smith said she had undergone “several surgeries” and was now in a stable condition.

The medic and former Army reservist told the newspaper: “She has been operated on several times in the country but she does need to receive upgraded, definitive care in the UK as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Osborn-Smith said she had dipped her leg into the water after being told by guides that the area was safe from crocodiles.

He 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.’”

Amelie’s leg is “severely damaged” but she has been “stablised”, Mr Osborn-Smith added. He also said the situation is “still pretty touch and go” as there is a “huge risk of infection”.

Zambia is on the UK’s travel red list – due to the emergence of the Covid omicron variant in southern Africa – so there is more complication in bringing her home, he has also said.

Amelie's mother, German baroness Veronika von Pfetten-Arnbach, has said that her daughter will “hopefully” be flown back to the UK sometime this week after she is discharged from the Zambian hospital.

It has been reported that Amelie was with Bundu Rafting, a company based in Livingstone, Zambia, since 1996.

It is believed that she was attacked by a Nile crocodile, which the largest and most common crocodilian in sub-Saharan Africa.

The species is known to have attacked hundreds of people a year, but the number could run into the thousands as many incidents are not reported.

The Nile crocodile, the second-biggest after the saltwater crocodile, kills more people even though it is smaller on average. It is believed that this could be because it lives and lurks in closer proximity to humans.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in