Skip to main content

Train mows down three elephants in eastern India

From Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Fri May 31, 2013
Indian villagers gather near the carcass of one of the elephants killed by the train in West Bengal.
Indian villagers gather near the carcass of one of the elephants killed by the train in West Bengal.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Train in West Bengal kills three elephants and left one in a critical condition
  • The train plowed into the animals as the herd crossed the tracks
  • As many as 36 elephants have been killed by trains in the area since 2004
  • India has a wild population of some 25,000 Asiatic elephants but their habitat is under threat

New Delhi (CNN) -- A train speeding through a forested corridor in India's West Bengal killed three elephants and another is in a critical condition, a wildlife official said Friday.

A baby elephant was among the animals killed in the pre-dawn collision in India's Jalpaiguri district some 620 kilometers (385 miles) north of the state capital Kolkata, said V.K. Sood, chief conservator of forests in West Bengal state.

Another elephant is still in a critical condition after the train plowed into part of a herd crossing the tracks, he said.

Concern over similar incidents had prompted railway authorities to restrict train speeds in the area to 25km an hour. However, the railway department has said a speed of 50km an hour was permissible in the area where the accident occurred.

Sood said an inquiry is now underway to determine the speed of the train that killed the elephants Thursday, he said, adding that investigators were also looking at the levels of visibility on the track at the time.

As many as 36 elephants have been killed by trains in the area since 2004, Sood said.

India's former rail minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said in a Railway Budget speech in February the department needed to make special provision to protect what he called "these gentle giants."

"The railway family is deeply grieved by some incidents of death of elephants on railway tracks passing through forest areas. Several measures have been initiated in consultation with the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which I am confident will substantially reduce such accidents and safeguard the lives of these gentle giants," he said.

He said the department had already proposed a bypass rail link around one reserve with a sizable elephant population.

Conservationists estimate that India has a wild population of some 25,000 Asiatic elephants but their habitat is increasingly under pressure as human settlements encroach on nature reserves.

India has recently witnessed a number of cases of wild animals entering urban environments. In one high-profile incident a leopard killed one person and injured two other after wandering into a residential area in northeast India.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:59 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
updated 6:18 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
updated 5:43 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 10:57 AM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT