Five elephants were killed after being hit by a train while they were crossing rail tracks in Assam's Hojai district, a forest official said today. A herd of elephants was crossing the rail tracks at Habaipur near Lumding reserve forest when the Guwahati-Silchar Express hit them last night, killing five on the spot, he said. The Northeast Frontier Railway has ordered a departmental enquiry into the incident. "Prima facie, an enquiry has revealed that the train was within its stipulated speed limit, a departmental enquiry has been ordered to find out details about adherence to protocols," NF Railway Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) Pranav Jyoti Sharma said in a statement. Due to the impact of the collision with the elephants, the engine got derailed, affecting train services in the area. "Divisional Railway Manager along with senior officials of Lumding Division reached the site with Accident Relief Train (ART), after which efforts were started to re-rail the locomotive," a railway spokesperson said. According to the CPRO, trains services in the area were restored at 2.37 am. "The incident took place at a location where there was no notified elephant corridor.
However, based on inputs from the forest department, a speed restriction of 30 kmps was imposed and all trains were instructed to slow down," Sharma said. Assam Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma visited the site. On December 10 last year, five elephants, including a pregnant one, were killed after the Guwahati-Naharlagun Donyi Polo Express hit them in Sonitpur district. A day after that incident, the NF Railway had blamed the Forest Department of not sharing movement of the animals with it. Sharma said there has been a manifold increase in incidents of elephants crossing railway tracks in the recent past and trains are slowed down whenever any information of movement of a herd is shared by the forest department. "It is only because of the close coordination between field level officials of both the forest and railway department that as many as 200 dashing have been prevented this year alone. However, the incidents have to be seen in the light of recent spurt of man-animal conflicts," he said. Seventy elephants had died last year due to electrocution, speeding trains, poisoning, human attacks, and other accidents besides natural death, a forest department official said.
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