Somatirtha Purohit

The Odisha Forest department on Monday termed the death of two elephants who died on Saturday after they were hit by a goods train near Bhusandapur Railway Station under Tangi Forest Division in Khordha, as ‘accidental’.

“We had information about the elephant herd crossing tracks and we were in contact with the railways. The goods train was travelling at low pace and the driver honked multiple times before crossing the spot,” said PCCF Shashi Paul.

Paul who termed the incident tragic, said that the warning systems of the department, pertaining to tracking the movement of animals, are being updated. “We are working on how to make it more efficient,” he added.

According to reports, a herd of eight elephants was crossing the railway tracks near the Bhusandapur level crossing late on Saturday night when a speeding train hit them.

The accident was captured on the cell phone of some locals who were present at the spot. After the video went viral on social media, it triggered heated arguments on the platform.

Eyewitnesses said one elephant died on the spot while two others that sustained injuries in the mishap ran into the nearby forest. The carcass of one of the two injured elephants was recovered from the forest on Sunday morning by the forest officials.

Recently, during the winter session of the Odisha Assembly, State Minister for Forest and Environment, Bikram Keshari Arukha had informed that at least 406 elephants had died between 2016-17 and 2020-21.

The Minister said that as many as 162 elephants died in accidents while 54 died of electrocution during these years.