A woman was killed in a freak accident when an elephant left its habitat in the Alangayam Reserve Forest and wandered on to Asanampet road near Alangayam on Friday evening.

The victim, who was travelling on top of a mango-laden van, was thrown off the vehicle and run over, after the van driver brought the vehicle to sudden halt on spotting the elephant.

According to Forest Department officials, the male elephant appeared on Asanampet-Alangayam road at 6.30 p.m. Police personnel attached to the Veppankuppam police station said Vijaya (37), a resident of Kalrapatti village in Alangayam and labourer, was coming along with four women on top of a van carrying a mango from Melpallipattu to Alangayam.

When the van driver suddenly applied brakes, Vijaya was thrown off the vehicle. She came under the front wheel of the van and was killed on the spot. The accident took place between Koravankottai and Theerthamalai. The road has thick forest cover on either side, police said.