Elephant camp operator charged over tourist's death

Elephant camp operator charged over tourist's death

"Plai Uthen", the 17-year-old male elephant that killed a Chinese tour guide and injured two tourists, was being kept chained and well away from visitors at the elephant camp in Bang Lamung, near Pattaya, on Friday. The tragedy reportedly happened after a tourist pulled his tail. He will be retired. (Photo by Chaiyot Pupattanapong)

CHON BURI: An elephant camp owner and a mahout were charged with recklessness causing death and injuries on Friday after an elephant killed a Chinese tour guide and injured two tourists there, near Pattaya, on Thursday evening.

Prasert Thawee-apiradeeboonsueb, owner of the Sam Liam Thong Kham elephant camp, and Au Bamrung acknowledged the charges at Huai Yai police station. The camp is in tambon Huai Yai of Bang Lamung district.

They were released after being questioned.

Rangsan Panawatanakul, manager of the elephant camp, said on Friday the elephant ride service had been suspended pending the construction of fences to keep wandering visitors away from the paths they use. It would take about a week.

He expressed his condolences to the victims, and said if a visitor had not annoyed the elephant, it would not have attacked anyone. There had never been such an incident there before.

It was reported earlier the elephant, a 17-year-old bull named Plai Uthen, charged into the crowd after a watching tourist yanked his tail. 

Mr Rangsaid also said the elephant camp would pay for the treatment of the two injured tourists who were riding on the elephant, and offer compensation to the relatives of the dead tour guide, in addition to the 1-million-baht insurance payout.

Plai Uthen would also be retired from giving rides, for good.

Bang Lamung district chief Naris Niramaiwong on Friday visited injured Chinese tourist Tanli Lai, 54, who was treated for a punctured rib and lung at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya. He handed initial assistance of 20,000 baht to Mr Tanli and said he would give compensation to the relatives of the dead guide.

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