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Speeding train kills elephant in eastern India


A speeding passenger train on Tuesday killed a fully-grown male elephant as it tried to cross a railway track cutting through a dense forest area in eastern India.

The train rammed into the animal near the Buxa nature reserve in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district, some 675 kilometres (419 miles) north of state capital Kolkata.

The elephant, which died on the spot from the impact of the collision, was pictured lying dead on its back with its trunk bearing injury marks but the tusks intact.

The Press Trust of India news agency quoted police as saying they had arrested a number of passengers who got out of the train with the intention of taking away the tusks.

Train accidents involving elephants are frequently reported from across the country with the most recent incident in December resulting in the death of five elephants in neighbouring Orissa.

Last week, India's Rail Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal stressed the need to protect the elephants from trains, describing the animals as "gentle giants" whose lives must be safeguarded.

The country is home to around 25,000 Asian elephants but their numbers are dwindling mainly due to poaching and the destruction of their habitats by human populations.