Paul McClean
Paul McClean, 25, was washing his hands when a crocodile snatched him up LinkedIn

A British journalist on holiday in Sri Lanka reportedly snatched by a crocodile as he washed his hands on Thursday (14 September) has been identified as Financial Times reporter Paul McClean.

McClean, an Oxford University graduate, reportedly "waved his hands in the air" for help being grabbed and dragged underwater at a lagoon called Crocodile Rock by the reptile.

The 25-year-old is believed to have wandered away from his group of friends to find a toilet and was washing his hands when the crocodile seized him.

According to The Telegraph, McClean reportedly only arrived in Sri Lanka within the last few days and was staying at a nearby hotel.

Sri Lanka's police and army are reportedly searching the shore and surrounding area for the missing man. Crocodile Rock is known for its large crocodile population and is located near a popular surf spot called the Elephant Rock on Sri Lanka's east coast.

A Scottish tourist, who asked not to be named, told The Mirror that the man appeared to be grabbed by a crocodile. "There are lots in the lagoon. People last saw his arms in the air in the water and then was grabbed under," the tourist said. "I was there but didn't see it happen though. Horrible."

Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School, located just up the coast from where the tragic incident occurred identified McClean. "A local fisherman witnessed a man being dragged into the river, set back from the beach, by a crocodile. The fisherman was on the opposite side of the river and downstream of the incident location," Lafeer said.

Lafeer added: "This is the first known crocodile attack in Sri Lanka. Both tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is a beautiful secluded beach and very safe...Local search and rescue teams are working alongside the police and British Embassy in attempt to locate the man's body."

McClean was raised in the Thames Ditton area of Surrey and graduated from Oxford with a First Class Honours degree in French in 2015. He joined the Financial Times later that year. He recently covered Brexit and the EU for the FT and had spent a couple months living in Brussels before returning to London earlier this year.

One of McClean's FT colleagues said: "We're all totally stunned. He was a great kid, an Everton fan, super bright. It's an absolute tragedy."