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Four baby elephants were killed when they were hit by a passenger train in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday, Police said. The accident is termed as one of Sri Lanka's worst involving wild animals. The baby elephants were walking towards a newly constructed railway line in Chettikulum, in the Vavuniya district when they were hit by the Colombo bound Thaleimannar Express train. No passengers were injured in the accident.
A Sri Lanka Railway official told Xinhua that an investigation by the Railway and Wildlife Departments was underway and added that the accident took place in a spot which was not frequented by wild animals. "The Wildlife Department together with the Sri Lanka Railways have been trying to identify paths where wild animals usually roam around. Along these routes trains usually reduce their speed and are very cautious. Wednesday's accident took place in an area where there have been no wild life movements," the official said.
He added that the four baby elephants had been hurt when they suddenly moved on to the tracks while the train was crossing. One baby elephant had been dragged meters away. Elephants are considered sacred in Sri Lanka and are legally protected. However, many are killed every year, mostly by angry villagers and farmers, when they trespass into human occupied space. In 2011, three baby elephants were killed by a passenger train along the same track in a forest area, about 150 km north of Colombo. In May this year, four elephants including two calves were killed by lightning in the country's north, which was one of the worst natural disasters involving elephants.