British man, 23, dies after being bitten by sea snake in Australia

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A 23-year-old British man has died after being bitten by a sea snake in Australia while working on a fishing trawler.

Northern Territory Police said the man was bitten while pulling up a net while working off Groote Eylandt, 400 miles east of the capital Darwin, on Thursday afternoon.

A helicopter crew was summoned and the trawler made its way to Borroloola, inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria, where the victim was pronounced dead, police added.

Craig Garraway, from St John Ambulance, told ABC News: “A trawler off Groote Eylandt had reported that one of their male crewmen had been bitten by a sea snake.

“The Groote Island health clinic and police responded to the trawler, but unfortunately the male passed away at some point yesterday afternoon.”

Inquiries are continuing and a post-mortem will be carried out.

All known species of sea snake are venomous and “produce some of the most dangerous venoms know in the animal kingdom,” the Marine Education Society of Australia said.

They grow to between 120cm and 150cm but can get as long as three metres, and are considered to be non-aggressive.

They tend to be found in tropical and sub-tropical waters through south-east Asia, the western Pacific and northern Australia.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who had died in the Northern Territory and are in contact with the Australian authorities.”

It is the second death of a British man while working on a fishing boat in the north of the country in five years.

In November 2013 a 20-year-old UK-born man died while working on a prawn trawler.

Ryan Donoghue was electrocuted while using a power tool when a wave washed on deck as it returned to Cairns.

Despite the efforts of the crew, he died on board with the trawler still 11 hours from port.

After an inquest in 2016, a coroner found his death was a “tragic, unnecessary and avoidable” accident and recommended new safety measures for using electrical tools at sea.

Mr Donoghue was born in Shoreham by Sea, West Sussex, and his family moved to Australia when he was six years old.

Coroner Greg Cavanagh said in his findings: “The death of Ryan Donoghue was needless and a tragic waste of a young life. It would have been prevented if there was even a modicum of compliance with the law. There was not.”

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