Two Italian tourists and a mahout were hurt, one serious, when a bull elephant giving rides at a tourist attraction in Phangnga suddenly went berserk, throwing three men off its back and then goring one tourist with its tusk.
The incident occurred at Bangkaew Adventure tourist site in tambon Song Phraek in Muang district, said Pol Capt Chayakorn Suwankao, a duty officer at Thung Khangok police station, who was alerted at around 10.30am on Tuesday.
Kanchanapong Karnwichit, a 26-year-old mahout, was taking two tourists -- identified later as Francesco Di Megu, 32, and Trofa Manuel, 30, both Italian nationals -- on a sightseeing tour around the venue. The two Italians were riding on the back of Thanwa, a bull elephant aged 8-9 years.
Thanwa suddenly went berserk and shook his body, throwing the three riders to the ground. The jumbo then rammed a tusk into Mr Di Megu's stomach. The mahout was then able to chase the elephant away from the two tourists.
The other tourist suffered a broken left leg and chest pain from the fall, while the mahout sustained minor injuries, Thai media reported.
Mr Kanchanapong told police that the elephant started shaking his body while plodding for about 50 metres. The mahout said he tried to control the beast with his hook, but Thanwa shook himself more vigorously, eventually throwing all three from his back. The mahout said he heard one of the tourists scream and jumped off the ground to help him. He then called other staffers for help.
The two tourists were rushed to a hospital, where they were pronounced out of danger.
It was unclear what prompted the elephant's outburst, although Thairath reported that a beer can was found nearby, speculating that the smell of the beer had provoked him.
Police charged Mr Kanchanapong with recklessness causing serious injuries to other people, although it was not immediately apparent what the mahout had done wrong. They planned to interrogate the owner of the site before considering pressing further charges.