Speeding freight train hits herd of elephants, killing 7 in dense forest in eastern India

By Manik Banerjee, AP
Thursday, September 23, 2010

Speeding train kills 7 elephants in eastern India

CALCUTTA, India — A speeding freight train struck a herd of elephants in a densely forested region in eastern India, killing seven, an official said Thursday.

The herd was crossing the tracks in Banarhat forest in West Bengal state at around midnight Wednesday when the train plowed into it, said Sumita Ghatak, a district forest officer.

“This is the first incident in the state when so many elephants have been killed in a single accident. It is really shocking,” Ghatak said.

Outraged wildlife activists said they had complained to railroad authorities many times, asking them to divert trains to other routes or avoid running trains through forests at night.

Animesh Basu, who runs the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, said conservationists have been urging railways to instruct drivers to slow down while traveling in forest areas.

Dozens of elephants have died in India in recent years after being hit by trains.

India’s wild elephant population was recently estimated at around 26,000.

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