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A FREIGHT train ploughed into a herd of wild elephants in north-eastern India early today, killing a mother and two calves and injuring two others, a wildlife official said.
Villagers said the injured elephants hauled themselves away from the tracks to a nearby wetland after the accident occurred shortly after midnight, according to Narayan Mahanta, a wildlife official in Assam state.
"Wild elephants usually cross the tracks at that stretch," said Mr Mahanta.
The mother and her two calves were killed instantly by the train, Mahanta said, which dragged the body of one calf for about 2.5km before stopping at the next station.
Assam has the largest concentration of Asiatic wild elephants in the world. The last census in 1999 showed 5400 wild elephants in the state, more than half of India's estimated 10,000.
The accident occurred near Chakradeo village, 30km west of Guwahati, the state capital, said Mahanta.
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