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Passenger train plows into and kills 5 elephants crossing railroad tracks in eastern India

A passenger train has plowed into and killed five elephants of a herd crossing railroad tracks in eastern India.

R.N. Mohapatra, a railroad spokesman, says the train struck the animals early Sunday in the Rambha forest area, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) south of Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state.

J.D. Sharma, chief conservator of the state's wildlife department, accused the railroad authorities of ignoring his department's warning that trains should slow down because a herd of elephants was moving in the area.

Mohapatra said the warning came too late.

Dozens of elephants have died in India in recent years after being struck while crossing railroad tracks that often run through national parks and forests.

India's wild elephant population was recently estimated at about 26,000.