(Sept. 24) -- Seven elephants have been killed by a speeding freight train in eastern India, after two baby elephants strayed onto the tracks and older ones followed to try to save them.
The deadly collision happened under a full moon late Wednesday in West Bengal between two protected wildlife zones where trains are supposed to slow down, USA Today reported. More than 20 elephants have died there in a little over a year, chief state forest conservator Atanu Raha told Agence France-Presse.
Str, AFP / Getty Images
People gather Thursday near one of the elephants that was killed by a train in India's West Bengal state.
But the number of animals killed in a single accident this week was "unprecedented and shocking," the World Wildlife Fund's local director in West Bengal, Sashwati Sen, told The Times of India. Local forest officials are preparing a report on the accident and plan to meet India's railway minister next week, the paper reported.
"One of the elephants was dragged for about 400 meters (yards), while the other four died on the spot," district official Kalyan Das told India Today. Two others were severely injured and died hours later, he said. "It is a ghastly sight," forest conservator S. Patel told the same paper. The baby elephants were among the dead.
Tracks between New Jalpaiguri and Assam were blocked for several hours Thursday by other elephants from the same herd who rushed to the scene to guard the seven dead bodies and an eighth animal who was wounded but survived, AFP reported.
7 Elephants Killed in Indian Train Crash