Elephants killed by speeding train in India

Three elephants were killed Thursday when they were hit by a speeding train in India's West Bengal state.

One of the elephants killed was a calf, and a fourth elephant is reported to be seriously injured.

The express train hit the elephants near Marghat forest, 385 miles north of state capital Kolkata.

"The train knocked down the elephants due to negligence of the driver," said Forest Minister Hiten Barman.

But railway spokesman Jayant Sharma said the accident site was outside the state's elephant corridor and that there had been no warning from the forest department about the elephants' movement.

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In recent years, activists have demanded trains lower their speed because of the deaths of dozens of elephants. Official figures show that at least 42 elephants were killed in West Bengal alone since 2004.

Thursday's accident happened just 200 meters from where seven elephants were killed on September 22, 2010. Trains killing elephants has already become a national issue, which was mentioned in this year's railway budget, presented in parliament by former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

India is home to around 25,000 elephants. Their numbers have been dwindling recently because of poaching and the destruction of their habitats by humans.

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