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Sri Lankan Navy Rescues Elephant Washed out to Sea

The Sri Lankan Navy mounted a massive rescue effort after spotting the elephant struggling eight kilometers into the deep sea in north eastern part of the island on July 11.  It managed to rescue the elephant that got into difficulties after being washed out into the sea. The Navy described it as a "miraculous escape".

Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge said the navy mounted a dawn to dusk rescue operations after spotting the elephant struggling to stay afloat around eight kilometres (five miles) off the island's northeast coast near Trincomalee.

Divers aided by wildlife officials approached the distressed animal and tied ropes to it before towing it gently to shallow waters near the coast, where it was released.

Walakuluge said the animal had likely got swept into the sea while crossing the Kokkilai lagoon, a large stretch of water that lies between two areas of jungle. "The elephants usually wade through shallow waters or even swim across to take a short cut," he said. "It is a miraculous escape for the elephant."

 The rescue came six weeks after the navy and local residents saved a pod of 20 pilot whales that became stranded in nearby Trincomalee, a natural harbour that is popular for whale watching.

The waters around Trincomalee, which was used by Allied forces as a staging post during World War II, have a high concentration of blue and sperm whales, while the surrounding jungles have herds of wild elephants.

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