A schoolgirl has saved her friend from the deadly grip of a crocodile by leaping onto the beast's back and gouging its eyes.

Rebecca Munkombwe, 11, from Sinderela Village in Zimbabwe rushed to the scene after hearing screams, to find 9-year-old Latoya Muwani being pulled under the water, reports the Zimbabwean newspaper the Sunday Times.

"We had just left the water when we heard Latoya who was left alone swimming near the neck-deep zone screaming that something was biting her hand," Rebecca told the Sunday Times.

"Since I was the eldest among the other seven children, I felt the urge to save her. So, I jumped into the water and swam to where she was struggling to float. She was screaming in pain that something was biting and pulling her under."


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Realising that the croc had a firm grip on her friend, Rebecca made the split-second decision to jump on to its back.

She gouged the crocodile's eyes until it released the younger girl.

"I jumped on top of the crocodile and started beating it with my bare hands before using my fingers to poke its eyes until it released her. Once she was free, I swam with her to the banks where the other children pulled her out of the water. The crocodile fortunately did not attack us after it let off Latoya," she said.

Latoya was taken to a local hospital for treatment where a nurse told media she had suffered only "mild injuries".

Latoya's father told the Sunday Times he was "grateful to God" for Rebecca's heroic actions and said that is daughter was recovering well and the family expect her to be discharged soon.

"For a moment there I thought of the worst before I learnt that she had survived after being saved by Rebecca. How she managed to do that I don't know," he said.