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Elephants Save Tourists from Tsunami  - 2005-01-02

Elephants in tsunami-devastated Thailand have joined the country's massive recovery work, one week after another group of elephants staged a dramatic rescue operation.

Thai officials say six jumbo elephants are now helping to tow heavy objects and pull away debris that heavy machinery cannot reach.

Elephants also played a crucial role before the tsunami hit.

Reuters news agency says eight elephants used for tourist rides at the Khao Lak beach resort became agitated last Sunday, more than an hour before the tsunami came ashore.

The beasts began crying, or "trumpeting," and finally broke free of their chains, heading for a nearby hill. Their trainers followed.

As the elephants fled, they lifted tourists onto their backs with their trunks, taking them to safety.

Scientists note animals often appear to sense the coming of natural calamities.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.