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The human remains of a schoolgirl have been found in remote northern Australia, two days after she was attacked by a crocodile whilst swimming.

The unnamed 12-year-old girl was reported missing at around 5.30pm local time on Tuesday, shortly after she took a dip in Mango Creek, Nganmarriyanga - a small Aboriginal community 220 miles south-west of Darwin.

Northern Territory (NT) Police Senior Sergeant Erica Gibson on Thursday confirmed the 12-year-old's remains had been recovered after a 36-hour search.

Gibson said it was “devastating news for the family, the community and everyone involved in the search”.

She added: “It was particularly gruesome and a sad, devastating outcome. It was extremely difficult for the first responders involved in the search.

“Police are providing support to the family and community, along with the first responders who attended the scene.”

The young girl was on holiday with her family when they decided to cool off at the creek as the mercury soared to over 30C.

Earlier reports claimed that a small t-shirt had been recovered from the creek.

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A black crocodile was seen in the nearby area, officers told ABC Radio. Brent Potter, the Northern Territories Police Minister, said that police had been authorised to “remove” a creature seen in the creek as they entered the “recovery stage” of the search.

“It’s a tragic incident for any parent or family member to lose a young child, and especially in the circumstances like that taken by a crocodile,” Potter told local media.

“I know the search and rescue team are currently out there with members from the Wadeye police station and they’ll continue to do that to find that croc.”

He added: “We live in a place where crocodiles occupy our water places. It is a tragic event.”

Gibson said it came as a “salient reminder” of the risks of waterways in the area.

“Waterways in the Northern Territory could always have crocodiles in them and it's that element of caution and being crocwise to ensure your own safety,” she said.

Locals joined in with officers to search for the missing schoolgirl. The “croc-searching” began at sunset on Wednesday, but Gibson said that there were no sightings overnight.

The creek, which is a popular swimming hole for the 450 residents of Nganmarriyanga, is considered safe in the dry season between May and October. However, during the wet season, the animals can swim into bodies of water from the nearby Daly River.

There are over 100,000 of the saltwater crocodiles in the Northern Territories. Their numbers have soared after Australia banned culling in the territory in 1971.

The creatures are highly territorial and they tend to reside in nearby waterways.

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