A berserk elephant escaped with three Chinese tourists on his back after killing its keeper in northern Thailand on Wednesday. A 30-year-old Plai Somjai male elephant went berserk during a jungle tour and attacked its keeper, 24-year-old mahout, Surachai Daengphumpak, killing him on the spot, according to Nation Multimedia. The elephant was triggered when he saw a mahout who allegedly used to hurt him. The elephant attacked Surachai, goring him on ground with his tusk and ran towards the other mahout, witnesses told Nation.
"The mahout who was killed was Karen and he was not familiar with the elephant. They (the tourists) are safe now," said police commander of Mae Wang district, Col. Thawatchai Thepboon, according to AFP.
Thai police officials said the Chinese family of three were rescued by another mahout, reported Bangkok Post. The parents and their child were unhurt and safe, but very upset.
Animal rights activists blame work overload for accidents like these, and use of elephants in Thailand as tourist attractions are under fire after Wednesday's accident.
"As a result these elephants are working from 8:30 to sundown with no breaks. These incidents will likely continue until more is done to look after the welfare of these animals," Edwin Wiek of the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand told DPA news agency.