Tipsy elephants kill six in India
GUWAHATI, India (AFP) Dec 17, 2002
At least six people were trampled to death by wild Asian elephants that went amok after getting drunk on rice beer in northeast India, an official said Tuesday.

The forest official said the herd went on the rampage Monday, looking for their favourite tipple, in Tinsukia district, 550 kilometers (344 miles) from the Assam state capital Guwahati.

"They smashed huts and plundered granaries and broke open casks to drink rice beer. The herd then went berserk killing six persons," the official told AFP by telephone from Tinsukia.

Wild elephants have been targeting areas where people brew large volumes of rice beer.

"We have come across devastating drunken bouts by herds that have developed a liking for country liquor," Kushal Konwar Sharma, a noted elephant expert, said.

The elephants have been causing large scale devastation in the area.

"A depleting forest cover and encroachment of elephant corridors have forced the pachyderms to stray out of their habitats," Assam Forest Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said.

In the last two years, elephants have killed at least 150 people. Angry villagers, in turn, have killed up to 200 of the animals.

Assam is home to about 5,500 of Indias total 10,000 wild elephant population.