State Forest Minister Hiten Burman said the incident happened around 5.45 pm near the Nagrakata-Jaldhaka bridge when the Guwahati-bound Kaviguru Express crushed the pachyderms. "Six elephants have died and several other elephants are critically injured. The injured elephants have been rescued and are under treatment," the minister said.

Unconfirmed reports said another elephant had died during treatment while 15 other pachyderms sustained injures. Burman alleged that the train was travelling at a speed much higher than the limit of 40 km per hour prescribed in the area, which is part of the elephant corridor.

"We will lodge an FIR against the railway authorities. Once we get the report from the forest officials, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be intimated about the accident," he said. Forest officials claimed the train was travelling at a speed of over 100 km per hour.

The train has been held up at the spot till last reports came in as the bodies of some of the elephants were crushed and stuck in the tracks. Diana Forest Range Officer Ajoy Ghosh said searchlights were being used to find all the injured animals.

A big herd of elephants moved into the area trumpeting loudly soon after the accident. In recent times, 43 elephants have been killed by speeding trains in the Dooars forest.

(Agencies)

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