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Last Updated: Monday, 3 January, 2005, 12:55 GMT
Star elephants aid Thai clean-up
Elephants being used to clear debris in Thailand
The elephants are used to clear debris in the forest
Elephants have been deployed to aid the clean-up in areas of Thailand ravaged by the Asian tsunami.

Six males which featured in the film Alexander were trucked in from Ayuthaya to help remove debris around the island of Phuket and Phang Nga province.

Some areas are too muddy or hilly for anything other than the animals sent from an elephant camp to reach.

Hundreds of bodies are thought to be trapped under rubble after sea surges wiped out beachfronts around Phuket.

Huge waves dumped debris more than a mile (up to 2km) from the island's beaches and Phang Nga.

'Like a four-wheel drive'

The elephants arrived in the devastated coastal region on Sunday.

Correspondents say they started work straight away - after a shower to cool off in the tropical heat.

The animals are said to have pulled away concrete slabs and trees to reveal an unidentified body, and to have dragged a submerged van from a lake littered with debris.

"The six were chosen because they are smart and can act on command," a camp owner said.

The elephant is like a four-wheel drive. They walk in the forest all their life
Trainer Laitonglian Meepan

The animals, which re-created their ancient roles as battle tanks in Alexander, are also used to drag logs through forests.

"We use the elephants because a truck can't pass through the thick forest," trainer Laitonglian Meepan said.

"The elephant is like a four-wheel drive. They walk in the forest all their life."

The six were reportedly rescued after authorities had threatened to put them down for attacking humans.

With thousands of people still missing, the elephants will continue their recovery work next week, the trainer told Reuters news agency.


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