Purulia, May 21: Six people, including a two-and-half-year-old boy, were trampled to death by a tusker in Purulia today.
The elephant wandered into Beladi village in the Joypur area, 305 km from Calcutta, around 5am and killed Nakur Mahato. Nakur, 35, was sleeping outside his hut.
The animal then attacked two other women, who were also sleeping, but they escaped with injuries.
After a 5km march to Jhagartar village, the tusker, which had strayed from his herd, descended on a vegetable field.
Badal Mahato, 30, a small farmer, had come to the field around 7am to pick vegetables.
With Badal was his wife Bela, 25, their two-and-a-half-year-old son Goltu, and his mother Sauri, 55.
I was busy in a corner of the field when I heard my mother shriek. I turned around and saw a huge elephant trampling my mother. I rushed forward but felt helpless in front the giant, said Badal.
The elephant gored Sauri with its tusks and then targeted Bela, who had Goltu in her arms.
When I realised it was not possible for me save them, I ran a distance and hid behind a clump of trees and watched. I watched my entire family die before my eyes, said Badal.
According to the forest department, the tusker was part of a herd of four that crossed over from Jharkhand last night.
Hours after divisional forest officer K. Balamorugan said this afternoon that it had gone towards the edge of the Joypur forest, the elephant killed two more persons in the area.
The forest department will provide a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for each of those killed and would bear the medical expenses of the two injured.
Officials said that of the three other elephants, two entered the Joypur forest while the fourth returned to Jharkhand.
Senior forest officials rushed to Joypur this morning and cordoned off the area where the elephant is believed to be hiding.
We requisitioned about 70 hula party members from our offices in Purulia town, Bagmundi, Jhalda and Arsha. They came with torches and firecrackers to scare away the elephant, a forest official said.
The forest team was especially worried as panchayat votes were being counted in Joypur High School, only 2km from the forest.
Purulia officials have sought the help of the forest departments Calcutta-based technical assistant, Subrata Pal Chowdhury, and Bankura forest ranger Falguni Mullick, who are elephant experts.
We need their opinion on whether the tusker needs to be tranquillised. We may have to tranquillise it and release it in the forest area of the Ayodhya hills, an official said.