One dead after Sri Lanka temple elephants spark stampede
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