She said Five more people injured in the attacks were admitted to hospitals in Coimbatore, where the condition of two wounded was said to be serious.
District official S. Madhuranthangi said that the elephant strayed into a residential area on the outskirts of the Coimbatore city from a nearby forest and carried out three attacks, sending residents into a state of panic.
Madhuranthangi said: “the elephant first entered a house and attacked a family that was asleep. It lifted a twelve-year girl with its trunk and flung her to the ground, causing her to die on the spot.
“It trampled two women and a 70-year-old man to death in separate attacks later.”
She said five more people injured in the attacks were admitted to hospitals in Coimbatore, where the condition of two wounded was said to be serious.
Hundreds gathered in the area as wildlife and police teams attempted to tranquilise the animal to arrange for its return to the forest.
“The elephant has gone astray and has been wreaking havoc in the region. … It attacked a government food rations store earlier on Thursday.
“We have warned residents not to venture out from their homes, but there is a lot of commotion around,” the official said.
Attacks by wild elephants are common in India and government reports say more than 300 people are killed each year by elephants.
Park deforestation, poaching and encroachment by villagers are boxing in the country’s estimated 27,000 to 31,000 wild elephants and causing them to stray from their habitat and reserves.