Three women workers of TANTEA, a tea plantation corporation of Tamil Nadu, were trampled and gored to death by a herd of three elephants at Range II of TANTEA at Periyakallar, about 20 km from Valparai, on Wednesday afternoon. Valparai is a hill station 90 km from Coimbatore.
A group of 10 women tea pluckers were on their way to deposit the leaf for weighing. When they were lining up their bags, three elephants emerged from the nearby forest and charged at them. Of the 10 seven managed to escape, but S. Katheeja (58), S. Chellathai (52) and S. Parameswari (58) were killed.
While Katheeja was trampled to death, the other two were gored. The herd remained at the spot for sometime, preventing estate workers, forest officials and police from removing the bodies. They subsequently managed to chase the herd away and arranged for recovering the bodies.
Protesting estate workers demanded that the District Collector visit the scene of occurrence, as deaths due to man-animal conflicts had become frequent in Valparai with no security for the life of the plantation workers.
Efforts by the authorities to pacify the workers did not bear fruit.
Field Director of Anaimalai Tiger Reserve H. Basuvaraju rushed to Valparai to negotiate with the agitated workers.
This was the second incident of the day in Coimbatore District in which elephants entered human habitations. In the morning, a tusker entered the bus stand at Marudhamalai near Coimbatore city and then ventured into a residential colony and made its way back to the forests through Government Law College.
Four Forest Department staff were injured when they tripped over while running away from the charging elephant.