Two adult elephants and a calf were hit by the Gyaneswari Express while crossing the tracks near Gidhni railway station -- around 180 km from Kolkata -- at around 1.30 am, said Samir Kumar Majumdar, assistant divisional forest officer (ADFO), Jhargram division.
"A herd of 11 elephants were seen roaming around the forest areas of Jhargram over the past few days. It is suspected that the three elephants that were mowed down on the tracks were part of the recently-spotted herd," Majumdar said.
The ADFO said today's incident was not an isolated one. Last, year, too, another elephant had met the same fate around this time of the year. "There has to be a mechanism to avoid elephant fatalities from train collisions," Majumdar said, adding that the carcasses would be cremated at a nearby forest later in the day.
Train services were partially affected for around two hours at the Kharagpur-Tatanagar section of the South Eastern Railway (SER) due to the incident. Three local trains -- Jhargram-Medinipur, Kharagpur-Dhanbad and Kharagpur-Purulia -- were cancelled this morning, an official said.
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