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Rampaging elephants kill 3 villagers in India

A HERD of nearly 150 hungry elephants rampaged through a village in India's remote northeast, trampling to death a young family as they slept in their hut, a resident and a wildlife official said yesterday.

The Asiatic elephants destroyed four homes in Assam state's Karbi Anglong village on Friday night, said resident Rimi Marak.

"The herd was just too large. The villagers could do nothing," Marak said. A farmer, his wife and their 5-year-old daughter died in the stampede, he said.

The herd left a nearby forest reserve in search of food nearly two weeks ago, said state forestry officer M.K. Dhar.

Forest guards had tried in vain to drive the elephants back using firecrackers and lighting torches, Dhar said.

The region is home to some 5,000 wild elephants, whose natural habitat has been increasingly diminished by human development. Conservationists say wild elephant attacks have killed more than 700 people in Assam in the past 17 years.

"We take pride at the large elephant population, but the increasing man-elephant conflict following the shrinkage in their habitat due to the growing human population is turning out to be a huge challenge," said Pradyut Bordoloi, a former state forest and environment minister.


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