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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 16:29 GMT
Drunken elephants die in accident

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC correspondent in Calcutta

Herd of Indian elephants
Elephants have been raiding villages in search of beer
Four wild elephants drunk on rice beer have been electrocuted in the north-east Indian state of Meghalaya, wildlife officials report.

The elephants are known to have a taste for rice beer brewed by tribal communities across north-east India.

But this is the first time some of them have died after consuming the drink.

A herd of about 20 to 25 elephants went on the rampage in a remote area in the West Garo Hills district earlier this week after getting high on the beer.

As panicky villagers fled for cover, leaving behind their freshly brewed beverage, the elephants drank to their heart's content.

The inebriated elephants then struck an electric pole and brought it down.

But their trunks took the brunt of the shock from the high-tension wire.

Four of the elephants were killed instantly.

Assam's elephant expert Kushal Konwar Sharma, a lecturer, said these elephants frequently consume rice beer and cause devastation when they become intoxicated.

Wildlife officials say in the last two years elephants have killed at least 180 people in Assam and Meghalaya.

And more than 200 elephants have been killed by angry villagers during the last six years in the two states, in what is developing into a fierce conflict between man and beast.

Drunk elephants kill six people
17 Dec 02  |  South Asia
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21 Oct 99  |  South Asia
India elephant rampage
24 Dec 98  |  South Asia

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