elephantPolice in eastern Thailand say an angry circus elephant grabbed a 30-year-old air conditioner repairman, Surat Kaenthip, who had provoked him and stomped on him until he was fatally injured.

The six-year-old elephant was resting in an open field in Rayong province, 90 miles east of Bangkok when the man hit him, said police Lieutenant Colonel Thanit Saeniwong na Ayuddhaya.

"The elephant then grabbed the man's body with his trunk and hurled him on to the ground before stomping on his body," he said.

Rescuers were deterred from helping Surat because the elephant ran toward them in a threatening manner, Thanit said. They eventually succeeded in taking Surat away but he later died in hospital from a cracked skull.

Onlookers then managed to temporarily placate the elephant by feeding him bunches of bananas, but he turned angry again, and dented a pickup truck parked nearby before his trainer - who had been away - returned and managed to calm him down.

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