elephant eye
The elephant has killed people in the past and has wrecked more than a dozen houses in the areaReuters

A killer elephant went on rampage smashing up a house in an Indian village but then saved a baby girl trapped under the debris.

The incident took place in Purulia district of the east Indian state of West Bengal, a region where man-animal confrontation is a regular phenomenon.

The elephant, which has killed people in the past and has wrecked more than a dozen houses in the area, demolished the house at night when the family was inside.

It started to move away from the rubble, but hearing a baby's cries from under the debris the elephant returned, the family said. The jumbo then "carefully" removed with its trunk the wreckage that had fallen on the 10-month-old and headed back to the forest.

'It's a miracle'

"She was crying and there were huge chunks of the wall lying all around and on the cot," the baby's father Dipak Mahato told The Times of India.

"The tusker started moving away but when our child started crying again, it returned and used its trunk to remove the debris."

The girl's mother said the incident was a miracle.

"We worship Lord Ganesh (the elephant god) in our village. Still, I can't believe that the tusker saved my daughter after breaking down the door and smashing a wall," Lalita Mahato said.

"We watched amazed as it gently removed the debris that had fallen on her. It's a miracle."

The girl suffered some external injuries from the debris but is in a stable condition, doctors said.

According to the region's forest officials, the tusker's act was quite "surprising" because it had killed three people in the last one year.

"What's really surprising is that this elephant left the little girl alive even after damaging the house. It seems to have a heart, too," forest ranger Samir Bose said.

Man-elephant confrontations have been on the rise in the region since changes in land use patterns blocked the traditional migration routes of the animals.

Bose said the same tusker had damaged at least 17 houses and destroyed crops in the district's villages.