An alligator dragged a small boy into a lagoon at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, defeating the father's efforts to wrestle his child away from the reptile, the sheriff's office said on Wednesday.
Law enforcement officials were hunting for the unidentified 2-year-old, grabbed by an alligator at the Seven Seas Lagoon at 9:20 pm on the grounds of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.
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The boy was playing in the water while his family of five, vacationing from Nebraska, relaxed on the edge of the lagoon, when he was seized by the animal, believed to be between 4 feet and 7 feet (1.2 meters and 2 meters) long, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters.
"The father entered the water and tried to grab the child and was not successful," Demings told a news conference just after midnight. The mother also tried to rescue the boy and a nearby lifeguard was told of the attack, Demings said.
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Wildlife and marine officials have also been drafted into the search, which will run into the night. "We are putting every effort forward," said Chad Weber, an officer of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The tragedy comes two days after a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub nearby in the worst mass murder in modern US history.