Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Calne teacher tells of battle with crocodile in Malawi

Antony Blackmore beside Lake Malawi
Antony Blackmore hopes to return to Lake Malawi once he has recovered

A teacher from Wiltshire who escaped from the jaws of a crocodile has said that he thought he was going to die.

Antony Blackmore, who is 27, was grabbed as he swam in Lake Malawi in Africa.

The crocodile clamped its teeth on to his left foot and dragged him 6ft (1.8m) beneath the waves.

He said: "In a split second I was snatched and taken down and rolled round and round. I thought 'this is it'. I couldn't see a way out."

Death roll

Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Blackmore said: "I swam two or three times a day in the lake and locals hadn't seen a crocodile in the area for 17 years.

"I went for a swim on Valentine's Day about midday and I was just treading water when I was snatched. It was instantaneous and I looked up to the surface and realised I was travelling down.

"It felt very strangely serene and it was almost as if it was happening in slow motion."

Mr Blackmore said he has been told that crocodiles spin their victims round in what is known as the death roll in order to drown them.

He said: "I managed to kick out with my right foot and hit its snout and eye. It released its grip for a moment and I managed to pull my left foot out and swim to the surface.

"The adrenalin was pumping by now and I managed to scramble up on to a rock. I didn't feel any pain, just complete fear and terror.

Murky waters

"I saw it swim round the rock once but then it sloped off in the murky waters.

"I started bellowing out for help. A local guy heard me and came out in a boat to get me back to the shore."

Mr Blackmore, a Sheffield University graduate who lives in Calne, is now recovering at his parents' home.

His left heel was "pretty much ripped off" by the attack and he said he is on his sixth course of antibiotics to try to clear an infection.

He said he intends to return to northern Malawi once his foot has healed to continue his volunteer teaching and tree planting work at McAlpine school in a project run by the Shanti Trust.

Crocodile hunters claim to have killed the 11ft (3.4m) crocodile to claim a bounty offered by the Malawian authorities.



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