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American Tourist Killed In Elephant Attack During Zambia Safari

During a safari in Zambia's Kafue National Park, an elderly American tourist lost her life when an aggressive bull elephant attacked the vehicle, resulting in the victim's death and minor injuries to others involved.

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American Tourist Killed In Elephant Attack In Zambia Photo: Getty Images

An elderly American tourist was killed following an attack by an "aggressive" bull elephant on a vehicle during a game drive in Zambia, as stated by the safari operator. The tragic incident occurred on Saturday morning at Kafue National Park in Zambia, as confirmed by a spokesperson from the Lusaka police to ABC News. The victim was identified as Gail Mattson by her family.

"An aggressive bull elephant charged the vehicle carrying six guests and a guide who were on a game drive from Lufupa Camp," stated Wilderness, the company operating the safari, in a statement to ABC News.

The 79-year-old sustained injuries during the "unexpected" event and was subsequently transferred to a hospital in South Africa, where she later died, as reported by Wilderness. Following the incident, four other individuals received treatment for minor injuries, as stated by the company.

"The six guests were on the game drive when the vehicle was unexpectedly charged by the bull elephant," stated Keith Vincent, Wilderness' chief executive officer, in the statement. He added that at the time of the attack, the safari guide's vehicle was "blocked" by the terrain.

Vincent expressed, "Our guides are all extremely well trained and experienced, but sadly in this instance the terrain and vegetation was such that the guide's route became blocked and he could not move the vehicle out of harm's way quickly enough."

After the attack, Kafue National Park management was promptly notified for assistance, and a helicopter was dispatched to the scene, as per Vincent. He mentioned that local police, Zambia's Department of National Parks & Wildlife, and other authorities are participating in the investigation.

Vincent stated that Wilderness is fully cooperating with the investigation, expressing, "This is a tragic event and we extend our deepest condolences to the family of the guest who died. We are also, naturally, supporting those guests and the guide involved in this distressing incident."

According to the statement, the remains of the elderly woman will be returned to her family in the U.S. with assistance from local Zambian authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka.

In a similar incident last month, a bull elephant attacked a safari truck in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa.

Videos from the March 18 event depict the bull elephant lifting a 22-seat safari truck multiple times with its trunk before allowing it to fall. Fortunately, there were no reported fatalities in this incident.

Hendry Blom, a bystander who captured the incident on camera, shared with ABC News, "We were definitely scared, especially for the people in the truck because we thought they might die."