One dead after Sri Lanka temple elephants spark stampede

Hindu devotees smeared in  colored powder during a procession for the immersion of idols of elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha on Thursday, September 15 2016. Elephants are considered sacred in Sri anka and parts of India. Channi Anand / AP
Hindu devotees smeared in colored powder during a procession for the immersion of idols of elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha on Thursday, September 15 2016. Elephants are considered sacred in Sri anka and parts of India. Channi Anand / AP

COLOMBO // Brawling elephants triggered a stampede at a temple in southern Sri Lanka which left one woman dead and a dozen wounded.

A mahout tried to separate the two animals by poking one with a sharp-edged hook, causing the elephant to run away in pain, said a police official. “The elephant did not harm anyone, it was trying to get away from the mahout, but people panicked and started running.’

The incident occurred late on Friday at the Hindu temple in Ratnapura, 100 kilometres south of Colombo, which was packed with devotees prior to an annual pageant.

A 60-year-old woman died of a heart attack following the incident, while about a dozen others were hospitalised for minor injuries suffered in the stampede. “The situation was quickly brought under control,” said the police official.

Elephants are considered sacred in Sri Lanka and domesticated animals are frequently paraded at temples during Buddhist and Hindu festivals.

The country’s wild elephant population has dropped to 6,000, from some 7,379 five years ago, largely due to farmers encroaching on their natural habitat.

The number of domesticated elephants has also dropped considerably as the authorities no longer grant permits for the capture of animals from the wild.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: September 17, 2016 04:00 AM

SHARE

Most Read