Three British backpackers have been rescued after their camper van became submerged in a part of Australia that is home to saltwater crocodiles.
The tourists had parked at a camping ground in Queensland on Monday night, shortly after several groups left because they were warned about rapidly rising floodwaters.
When they woke up on Tuesday morning, the waters were above the van’s wheels – leaving them with no choice but to call the emergency services and climb on to the roof.
Rescuers used an inflatable dinghy to reach the Britons, and all three of them were brought to safety within 45 minutes.
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest species of the fearsome reptiles, and they are known to occasionally prey on humans. They can live for up to 70 years and grow throughout their lives, reaching up to 7m (23ft) in length.
Guy Bulmer, an officer with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, said: “During the night and the course of the evening they noticed water entering the campervan and there was a croc sign quite close by.
“The signs are not there for general information. It’s quite specific, there are crocodiles there.
“They went to the roof of the van and it’s not until they were seen this morning that someone saw them there – they had no shirts on either.”
According to Mr Bulmer, locals were on the lookout for crocodiles in case any surfaced during the flooding.
He added: “They look like logs so they are hard to spot, but they are quite shy and we were making a lot of noise.
“I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were around though.
“You’ve also got debris in the water, it’s extremely dirty, so there is plenty of potential for injury and death.”
The three Britons involved have now flown out of Cairns, and they were said to be “certainly grateful” when they were rescued.
Mr Bulmer said: “They had a cold and wet night. They got warmed up and it was happy days because no one got hurt.
“It can happen to anyone, and tourists don’t have the local knowledge.
“The worst case scenario would have been if they thought ‘let’s give it a go and swim’ which would have been a potential life or death situation.”