Crocodile bites off woman's hand in creek

A crocodile bit a woman's hand off in an attack at a creek in a small northwestern Australian town, sparking a hunt to trap and kill the animal on Thursday.

The woman, aged in her 60s, was at Three Mile Creek in Wyndham, about 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) north of Perth, on Wednesday afternoon when she was attacked, Western Australia's Country Health Service told AFP.

She was reportedly walking along the creek bank when the crocodile lunged out of the water, a St John Ambulance spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

She was flown to the Royal Darwin Hospital in neighbouring Northern Territory in a stable condition, a health service spokesman said.

Police cordoned off the area but by the time wildlife officers arrived, the animal could not be found. A Department of Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman said the creature was believed to be a saltwater crocodile.

"We've got crews on site trying to locate the animal. If that doesn't happen, we'll soon be getting fresh crews in to come and deploy a trap with a view to trapping and destroyed the animal," she told AFP.

Crocodiles are common in Australia's tropical north where numbers have increased since the introduction of protection laws in 1971, with government estimates putting the national population at approximately 100,000.

They kill an average of two people each year in Australia.

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