A lakeside baptism ceremony reportedly went sour, as it was gathered that a Pastor identified as Docho Eshete was allegedly grabbed by the crocodile, soon after he started a mass baptism for 80 people on the shores of Lake Abaya in southern Ethiopia.
Pastor Docho died after being bitten on his legs, back and hands, as huge efforts from fishermen and residents could not save him, policeman Eiwnetu Kanko said.
“He baptised the first person and he passed on to another one,” local resident Ketema Kairo told the BBC. “All of a sudden, a crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed the pastor.”
As his horrified congregation looked on, local fishermen reportedly struggled to rescue him. It was said they succeeded only in using their nets to prevent the crocodile from taking the 45-year-old’s body into the lake, near the city of Arba Minch. The crocodile however escaped.
Lake Abaya, Ethiopia’s second largest lake, is said to be beautiful, but the Lonely Planet travel guide warns: “It has a large population of crocodiles, which are said to be aggressive towards people and animals because the lake has few fish, their preferred food.”
The reptiles have a reputation of aggression towards humans because of a dearth of fish in the lake. The lake’s reddish brown waters make it hard to spot a crocodile until it surfaces, making escape less likely.
Hundreds of people are killed in crocodile attacks in Africa every year, conservationists say. Many of the victims are women washing clothes on river rocks. The true death toll is unknown, however, as many deaths are unreported.
Last month a crocodile in Zimbabwe ripped off the arm of Zanele Ndlovu, a Zimbabwean woman, five days before she married her British fiancé, Jamie Fox.
In January, a 90-year-old tourist was killed and his female companion badly hurt after crocodiles elsewhere in Zimbabwe attacked their inflatable boat, puncturing it.
And in neighbouring Mozambique, at least 12 people were killed in February when crocodiles attacked villages situated along a tributary of the River Zambezi.