Police recovered the body of a 2-year-old boy snatched by an alligator at a Disney hotel in Florida after around 19 hours of searching, officials has said.
The body was recovered intact within the immediate area where the child was last seen, leading Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings to conclude that the child had drowned.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the boy was drowned by the alligator,” Demings said.
He said that members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office located the body on Wednesday at 1745 GMT and recovered it about two hours later.
The child’s remains have been turned over to the county medical office for an autopsy. They will be returned to the family for burial after the procedure, Demings said.
Jacquee Wahler, vice president of the Walt Disney World Resort, said Disney was assisting the family.
“Everyone at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident,” she said, according to a statement quoted by multiple news outlets.
The search and rescue effort began after eyewitnesses reported seeing the boy being taken under the water by the alligator at 9 p.m Tuesday night.
Disney closed all beaches in its resort area in response to the incident in a lagoon outside the upscale Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Tuesday night.
The boy had been wading in about 30 centimetres of water in the Seven Seas Lagoon near his family when he was attacked by the alligator, officials said.
His father jumped into the water, but failed to wrestle his son from the animal, which was described between 1.2-metres and 2.1-metres long, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The parents alerted a lifeguard, and a team of rescuers joined forces in the search.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Service worked with police officials to trap alligators in the area and manage other wildlife within the man-made lake to help find the body.
They discovered five other alligators living in the lake. (dpa/NAN)