A five-member team that was part of ‘Operation Malai’ in Tiruvannamalai to relocate six wild elephants escaped with injuries when the Forest Department vehicle they were travelling in met rammed a truck at Manajavadi Kanavai village the Salem-Dharmapuri border on Thursday morning.

Four of them are being treated at the Government Super Speciality Hospital here and the other was taken to a private hospital in Coimbatore.

Veterinary Assistant Surgeon R. Thangadurai suffered a fracture in the left hand. “We were returning to Tiruvannamalai after handing over a wild elephant that was transported to Anamalai in Coimbatore on Wednesday. We left the tranquilised elephant at Anamalai around 4 p.m., took rest for sometime and began the return trip around 8 p.m.

We took a break at 6.30 a.m. The accident occurred when we resumed the journey, he said.

Forest Guard M. Pavun (40), from Jamunamarathur Range, who drove the vehicle claimed that its steering wheel was fixed recently as it used to get stuck often.

On this trip, it got stuck on the left.

As a result, the vehicle was about to go off the road. When he turned the steering to the right to avoid this, the vehicle fell on the road and was hit by the truck that came in the opposite direction, he said.

The other injured persons are M. Palanivelrajan (32), Assistant Professor in the Department of Wildlife at Madras Veterinary College, A. Sanjeevi (45) Forester and C. Palani (50) Guard in Jamunamarathur Range.

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