Two soldiers mauled by a crocodile in the sea off Queensland have a survival tale of epic proportions after a marathon rescue involving a dinghy, a helicopter and a light plane.
Paramedics say the men - both Army personnel - were attacked while fishing about a kilometre off remote Portland Road, towards the tip of Cape York Peninsula, about 4pm on Friday.
Details remain sketchy but a salt water croc, reportedly 2.5 metres long, mauled one of the men on the head and upper body. It then attacked the second man as he tried to save his mate, tearing open his arm.
It is not clear if the pair deliberately entered the water or if they might have been knocked in.
But Denis O'Sullivan from the Queensland Ambulance Service says they almost certainly owe their lives to other Army personnel who were nearby.
They got the pair out of the water, and applied a tourniquet to stem significant blood loss from the most seriously injured man, who is aged in his early 20s.
Both victims are now stable in the Cairns hospital after a rescue that spanned about seven hours and covered 700km.
The defence department has provided few details and has not said if the men were on or off duty at the time. And it has not explained how other Army personnel learned of the attack.
The ambulance service has said an Army barge was involved in getting the pair to safety.
"Our immediate focus is on providing the necessary medical treatment for the soldiers involved, and supporting their families who have been informed. The incident is under investigation, as such, defence will not provide any further detail," the defence department said in a statement to AAP.
Soon after news of the attack broke, Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher said the men had gone for a swim in waters widely known to be infested with crocodiles.
On Saturday Mr O'Sullivan, from the ambulance service, said: "It's reported, I believe, that both persons in the location were going to do some fishing.
"I'm not sure why both persons were in the water at that time, or if they were in the water."
He said an Army medic at the scene came to the rescue, applying a tourniquet to stem very significant bleeding suffered by the man with the worst injuries.
Army personnel also provided initial care to the other victim, aged in his early 30s. A radio channel was used to raise the alarm about 4pm, with mobile reception in the area patchy.
They were taken to shore in a dinghy, where they were met by a rescue chopper dispatched from the Torres Strait - a flight that takes about 90 minutes.
The chopper flew them to the Lockhart River airport, and from there a Royal Flying Doctor Service plane flew them to Cairns, landing at about 11.30pm, more than seven hours after authorities were alerted.
Mr O'Sullivan said the younger man was incredibly lucky to be alive, given the extent of his blood loss and reports the croc was far from small, at 2.5 metres.
"He wouldn't have wanted it any bigger, put it that way."
Australian Associated Press