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A two-year-old boy is missing after he was dragged into a lagoon by an alligator at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando – despite his father’s frantic attempts to wrestle his son from the reptile’s jaws.
The boy was dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon near the high-end Grand Floridian Resort & Spa around 9:20pm on Tuesday as he paddled in a foot of water with his parents and four-year-old sister – despite ‘no swimming’ signs being posted nearby.
Sheriffs say there is little hope of finding the boy alive after his father’s unsuccessful struggle with the seven-foot reptile, which also left him with lacerations to his arm.
However, the search for the boy continued Wednesday morning, with sheriff’s deputies searching the lake by boat and helicopter, aided by sonar technology, dive teams and alligator trappers.
Alligators are a relatively common sight at the resort but are removed and relocated when they reach four feet and get too close to guest areas.
Wildlife officers on Wednesday morning confirmed that they had already captured and killed four alligators in the lagoon while searching for the child, but none of them were the one that grabbed the boy.
It is not known if the child or his family are guests at the hotel, where prices were standard rooms start from $569 per night.
During a news conference today, Nick Wiley from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation said that the organization works closely with Disney to remove all nuisance alligators.
He added that they had already taken four alligators while searching for the boy, which were analysed for evidence and then euthanized.
Wiley also explained he was certain that they would find the boy, but added that it may take some time.
Meanwhile Jeff Williamson, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said they were determined to find the boy in order to bring comfort to his family.
He said they were doing everything possible to find the child and that they still regarded the effort as a ‘search and rescue’ operation.
New sheriff’s deputies were brought in Wednesday morning to bring ‘new eyes’ to the search, on the ground and in the air. Alligator trappers and divers were also called in to help.
Earlier, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the toddler, who was part of a family of five, arrived in Orlando on vacation from Nebraska on Sunday.
He told a news conference last night that the parents and their three children had been on the beach at the time of the attack.
Demings said: ‘The father entered the water and tried to grab the child but he was not successful in doing so. I’m told that at some point, the mother also entered the water.’
He said that the family had been enjoying a ‘movie night’ and the child had been in a play pen.
Later, as the boy played, he waded in about one foot of water with his mother and the alligator – believed to be anywhere between four and seven feet long – attacked.
‘As they waded into the water along the lake’s edge at the time, that’s when the alligator attacked,’ he said.
He added that the family alerted a nearby lifeguard but they were not able to save the boy. The father was left with scratches after the ordeal.
‘We are not leaving until we recover the child,’ Demings added, saying there were more than 50 law enforcement personnel who are actively searching the lake.
‘The sad reality of it is it’s been several hours and we’re not likely going to recover a live body.’
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.