An elephant killed a 70-year-old woman in India and then returned to her funeral to trample her corpse, leaving others attending the funeral to run for their lives. The incident happened in the Indian state of Odisha on Thursday, authorities said. Maya Murmu was fetching water in Raipal village, Eastern India, on Thursday morning when the incident occurred.
According to reports, the elephant appeared out of nowhere and trampled Murmu to death, police said. The elephant is believed to have strayed from the Dalma wildlife sanctuary, which is about 160 miles from Mayurbhanj in the adjoining state of Bihar, according to authorities.
Beast of Fury
On Thursday morning Murmu was fetching water in her village when the elephant attacked her and trampled her. Murmu was immediately transported to the hospital after being trampled and died from her injuries, according to police officer Lopamudra Nayak, who spoke to the Press Trust of India news agency.
It is unclear if Murmu was alone at that time or if there was anyone else who was also injured. Later in the day, the family continued with the funeral ritual after the elephant had left.
According to reports, as family members gathered for Murmu's funeral and were completing final rituals, the same elephant reappeared. The furious tusker then took Murmu's body from the funeral pyre, and trampled it again, as astonished mourners looked on.
The panicked family members ran for shelter as the elephant continued to trample Murmu's body again. The family members were finally able to proceed with the ritual only after the elephant had left.
It's unknown if the animal hurt anyone else in the vicinity during its evening rampage.
Elephant Attacks on the Rise
According to the World Wildlife Fund, elephants kill around 100 people in India each year, while the number could be as high as 300.
The Indian government prevents potentially fatal human-elephant confrontations by equipping the beasts with radio collars and sending text alerts to villagers when they enter human-populated areas.
However, elephant-human conflict is a typical occurrence in Odisha. Human encroachment on animal habitats has risen in the mineral-rich state, increasing the likelihood of confrontations between villagers and elephants.
A troubling trend in the state has been an increase in the frequency of elephant fatalities that are not natural. According to data provided by the state's chief wildlife warden, at least 1,356 elephants have perished in Odisha since 2000-01, according to the IANS news agency.
In the seven months from April to October last year, at least 42 elephants died in the state. Many more cases of human-elephant conflict have been reported from across the country.
In March, a woman was killed by a wild elephant in a forest in central Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur district. According to authorities, her eight-year-old grandson was hurt while attempting to flee.