Wild elephants trample two Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

An elderly person and a toddler were killed when the elephants rampaged through the area.
An elderly person and a toddler were killed when the elephants rampaged through the area. PHOTO: AFP

COX'S BAZAR, BANGLADESH (REUTERS, AFP) - Wild elephants trampled to death two Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh on Monday (Sept 18) when they rampaged through a settlement where the refugees were taking shelter after fleeing a military offensive in neighbouring Myanmar.

More than 410,000 refugees from Myanmar have poured into Bangladesh since Aug 25 when attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts triggered a Myanmar army operation that the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing.

"There are elephants in the forest, close to the place where many Rohingya refugees are clearing forest to make huts," police official Chailau Murma told Reuters.

An elderly person and a toddler were killed when the elephants rampaged through the area, he said. Three other people were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries, a refugee camp leader said.

Rohingya elder Kamal Hossain said the two refugees killed by elephants were new arrivals, who had taken refuge in a forested area near the sprawling Kutupalong camp. "It happened early Monday morning when the Rohingya were sleeping under plastic tents. The wild

elephants trampled the two elderly civilians to death," Hossain told AFP.

Police said the elephants later disappeared back into the forest.

The refugees are facing dire conditions with insufficient food, water, medical care and shelter, and regular drenchings from monsoon rains that have turned roads into quagmires.

Bangladeshi authorities say they aim to move everyone out of so-called spontaneous sites, usually beside roads where people try to make shelters wherever they are, into one big camp where aid supplies can be properly distributed.