A 72-year-old man has told rescuers how he battled crocodiles with a spanner and spark plugs after watching his friend drown in northern Australia.
The pair were catching mud crabs when one of the reptiles capsized their 3m (10ft) “tinny” boat at Leaders Creek in Darwin on Tuesday morning.
One man drowned after he became trapped while trying to get back onto the boat.
The other fisherman managed to smash one of the animals on the skull with a spanner during the three-hour ordeal.
Air ambulance Careflight spokesperson Ian Badham recounted the survivor’s experience, saying the crocodiles kept coming back at him during the “terrible tragedy”.
The man hid in mangroves before the changing tide eventually helped him climb back up onto land. Professional crabbers heard the man’s screams and came to his aid.
They took him and the body of his friend to a boat ramp. Once other fishermen managed to reach air ambulance serves he was treated for severe shock, dehydration and exposure before being released on Wednesday morning.
The two men had been on holiday from Bendigo in Victoria.
A 2015 inquest into the death of a man who was taken by a crocodile during a fishing trip in Kakadu warned that smaller boats posed a greater risk.
Last month a Northern Territory mayor called for a cull after a camper described waking up to find a crocodile had entered his tent and was biting his foot.
The population of saltwater crocodiles in northern Australia is estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000 adults.