ROURKELA: Panic gripped Sector-22 of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), located on the southern tip of the city, when a herd of seven elephants strayed into the area and damaged boundary walls of two buildings on Wednesday night.
The herd was staying in Sonaparvat Reserve Forest (RF) for the last 45 days and used to frequent the connecting Bijay Sagar reservoir of IDL Explosives plant for water.
On Wednesday night, the elephants strayed about 1.5 km away from the reserve forest and entered the residential area, said Rourkela Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sanjit Kumar.
The animals would have returned to the forest the same night had the locals not created panic by showing torches and bursting crackers, Kumar added. In the process of finding a passage, the elephants damaged boundary walls of Sonaparvat High School at two places and that of Sona Udyan, a park of RSP.
They were in the park till Thursday evening.
By Thursday evening, the animals were moving back towards the forest, said the DFO.
Earlier, on three to four occasions, the same herd had intruded into areas near IDL Explosive plant and on one occasion damaged its office outside the boundary.