Seven elephants and two calves were killed in Kolkata, India, Thursday when a passenger train crashed into them as they went across tracks in a forest. Ten other elephants were seriously injured, and more may die.
According to the star.com, Hiten Burman, forestry minister in West Bengal, said the crash was the worst anyone could remember.
The train was moving at 80 miles-per-hour when it struck the elephants. The herd had about 40 in it when the train went through the Chapramari Forest at dusk Wednesday.
“The herd scattered, but returned to the railway tracks," Burman explained. He said the animals remained until railroad workers and forest guards drove them away.
According to Burman, said railway authorities have repeatedly disregarded requests from his department to decrease their speed inside the elephant corridor in Jalpaiguri district. That is about 670 kilometers from the state capital of Kolkata.
In recent years dozens that have crossed railroad tracks have been killed by trains. The tracks go through India’s national forests and parks. Five elephants were killed in in the nearby state of Orissa.
Sky News reported Animesh Basu, a coordinator of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation and a wildlife activist said it is ironic so many elephants are being killed by speeding trains. That is because an elephant is the "heritage animal in India and an elephant cub is the mascot of Indian Railways."
He added 50 elephants have been killed in West Bengal since 2004. There are 27,000 elephants in the wild area of India, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The Huffington Postt reported Burman said the incident was a result of result of "callousness on the part of the railways."