A suspected lone tusker trampled five persons to death in two different villages in Odisha’s Angul district late on Thursday night.Of the five killed, three belonged to one family. They were sleeping on the verandah of their house in Sandha village in Angul district when the elephant attacked them. Forty-year-old Kalia Saar, who was a worker in a brick kiln, and his two-year-old and 12-year-old daughters died on the spot. Subsequently, the elephant attacked another woman in the same village and crushed her to death.After one hour of the incident, an elderly person was trampled to death in Santhapada, a few km away from the first village. The victim was identified as 70-year-old Bramarabar Samal, who had stepped outside his home to relieve himself.In 2018, as many as 92 persons died in elephant attacks in the country, the highest in a single year.“Initial reports suggested that the tusker was attracted to country liquor stored in a house in Sandha village. We have sought the help of experts from Nandankanan Zoological Park. We are now assessing the behavioural change in the elephant,” said V. Karthik, Divisional Forest Officer of Angul.The man-elephant conflict has assumed critical proportions in Odisha. According to the Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), an environmental pressure group, the State has lost 694 elephants while 661 human deaths were reported in elephant attacks in the last nine years. The year also saw 91 elephants losing lives, which is also a record. In the current month, three elephants have been killed while 10 human deaths have been recorded.“Acute human-elephant conflict continues unabated due to total lack of concern of the Odisha forest department. We anticipate more casualties this year as well,” said Biswajit Mohanty of WSO.Mr. Mohanty said, “In the fresh case if the elephant was a lone tusker, the animal being in an aggressive state of mind could attack more people. The forest department should immediately corner the elephant and prevent further attacks. At the same time, people should be asked to venture out of their homes cautiously.” Meanwhile, the forest department has already traced the tusker and is keeping a close watch on its movement. “We have paid ₹40,000 each for the deceased. They will get ex gratia as per government guidelines,” Mr. Karthik said.