WARNING: Distressing footage
Footage has captured the horrifying moment a double-decker bus crashed headfirst into an elephant, fatally injuring the creature.
The bus was travelling from Bangkok to popular tourist destination Chang Mai along a stretch of motorway in Northern Thailand, carrying 25 passengers.
One bystander filmed the exact moment the 8-year-old elephant, named Plai Udom by his keepers, walked out into the path of the fast-approaching vehicle.
The bus was travelling at approximately 60mph and skidded for 30 metres before coming to a halt after the collision.
One passenger, 36-year-old Panong Pattaraporn, said:
We were travelling along as normal and suddenly there was sudden breaking and an enormous impact.
The bus skidded for about five seconds and then stopped. It travelled about 30 or 40 metres with the elephant still under the front.
Another man captured the graphic scenes in the aftermath of the crash, in which paramedic services tried to free the bus driver, 45-year-old Narit Chittong, who was pinned into his seat by the dead animal.
The Sun reports paramedics had to remove the creature’s foot from the shattered windscreen.
We left the bus and the sight was horrible. The poor elephant.
It might have been startled by something and ran onto the road.
I don’t think the driver had time to stop and elephants are hard to see in the dark because of their grey colour.
Chittong is currently being treated in hospital. Thankfully, no other passengers were injured, but many reported being emotionally disturbed by the tragedy.
The Asian elephant died instantly upon impact. Plai Udom (pictured below) is believed to have escaped from his jungle enclosure at the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation, a charity that was preparing him to be released back into the wild in a matter of days.
Disturbingly, it’s the second time the elephant had tried to escape.
This incident sadly shows the fatal impact man can have upon these beautiful creatures.