An elephant in northern Thailand went berserk Wednesday, killing his "mahout" keeper before running off into the jungle with three terrified Chinese tourists still on his back, police said.
"The mahout who was killed was Karen and he was not familiar with the elephant. They (the tourists) are safe now," Colonel Thawatchai Thepboon, police commander of Mae Wang district in Chiang Mai province, told AFP.
The Karen are an ethnic minority widespread in northern Thailand.
Police said the incident took place at 9.30am (0230 GMT) as a Chinese family of three -- a father, mother and a young child -- took a ride on the back of a male elephant.
Rides are a popular and lucrative tourist activity but many animal rights groups say it is cruel and stressful for the pachyderms.
The elephant had not taken easily to his new keeper and turned on him suddenly, goring him to death, Channel 3 reported.
The channel broadcast footage of the three frightened tourists being led back to camp still on the elephant's back once it had been calmed down by other mahouts and their rides.