Freed at last: Digger crew rescues elephants trapped inside tank for two days

Three wild elephants – including one young calf – have been freed from a water tank where they were trapped for more than two days. The animals were freed by rescuers using a digger after languishing inside the concrete basin just a few metres wide with their trunks raised to breathe. The rescue crews used used firecrackers and helicopters to keep the rest of their herd away, giving the digging machine the chance to smash one wall of the tank. The process took about a half-hour and injured the eye of one of the adults but afterwards the trio trundled away from the site.

We were worried that the baby elephant might choke on the water or die from exhaustion

Xiong Chaoyong, deputy manager of Yunnan’s Asian elephant breeding and rescue centre

The youngest elephant probably fell into the tank before the adults tried unsuccessfully to help it out, officials in Yunnan province said. More than a dozen wild elephants soon surrounded the tank, becoming agitated after repeated attempts to pull out their companions using their trunks. Asian elephants are first-class national protected animals in China, but poaching has caused their numbers to dwindle to about 300 in the wild.