By Leon Watson
Six people have been killed and two others injured today after three wild elephants walked into a road in Thailand.
The accident that involved a three-car pile-up happened in Rayong province, east of Bangkok. One of the elephants, who had ventured away from a nature reserve, later died.
The area is near the Khao Anglunai Wildlife Preserve, near Khao Chamao National Park and the heavily forested Cambodian border.
Reports said a sports utility vehicle carrying four people hurtled off the road after hitting an elephant. The male driver and a female passenger, died on the spot and the elephant had its leg broken.
Another passenger later succumbed to injuries in Wang Chan Hospital.
Shortly after, a six-wheel Isuzu truck crashed and then a bronze Toyota Vigo pickup rammed into the back of it.
The male pickup driver died there. Three others, a man and two women, were injured. One died of her injuries, the Bangkok Post reported.
The six-wheel truck driver, Singhyutthakarn Virophrom, was uninjured. He told police he was delivering fertiliser from Bangkok to Chanthaburi.
He saw two elephants looking agitated in the middle of the road. Another was lying on the ground almost 100 metres from the crash site.
Veterinarians were dispatched to tend the injured male elephant, which was also bleeding from its left ear. It had to shot with an anaesthetic dart, and then took it to an animal clinic for treatment.
The elephant died as a result of his massive injuries, the vets said later.
Pitak Yingyong, a forestry officer, said the three elephants left the Khao Anglunai Wildlife Preserve Area several days ago and rangers were searching for them.
The elephants were likely looking for food at nearby palm and pineapple plantations before returning to their habitat early in the morning, Mr Pitak added.