Blame game on as train mows down 5 elephants in Assam

Assam Speeding train kills four wild elephants

Veterinarians tend to a wounded female elephant who, according to forest officials, was hit by a train near Habaipur railway station in Hojai district in the northeastern state of Assam, India, yesterday.

Four elephants died when they were trapped between the fence and the tracks while the condition of the fifth one has been reported to be serious when 15611 Guwahati-Silchar fast passenger train hit the elephants.

Another elephant was seriously injured in the accident, he added. The impact of the collision derailed the engine but no passengers were injured.

Locals claimed that the area had already been identified as an elephant corridor, and they had waved at the train driver to ask him to stop. The train movement on the section was finally restored at 2 am today, he said. The department, along with North East Frontier Railways, has organised awareness camps for train drivers to tackle situations arising out of elephant movement near railway tracks.

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"The incident took place at a location where there was no notified elephant corridor". This issue figured in the meeting between forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma and officials of NF Railway in Hojai on Sunday.

Divisional Railway Manager along with senior officials of Lumding Division reached the site along with Accident Relief Train (ART) from Lumding after which efforts were started for rerailing the locomotive. One such diversion in December past year saw five wild elephants being knocked down by a speeding train near a tea estate in north-central Assam's Sonitpur district.

Green activists say encroachment and habitat destruction have forced elephants to stray out of traditional routes for food. Despite the mortality, elephant population in Assam rose from 5,246 in 2002 to 5,719 a year ago.

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