Five elephants, including two calves, which were swept away from their herd by heavy currents in Mahandi river while crossing it early Monday near Mundali, swam to safety later in the day, forest officials said.
The five pachyderms swam to safety near Naraj Barrage on the outskirts of Cuttack in the afternoon, they said.
After over five hours of struggle, the animals found their way into the jungle by the evening, said the forest officials overseeing their rescue operation throughout the day.
The officials said, "At least five elephants, including two calves, of a herd of around 20 were trapped in heavy currents while crossing the river near Athgarh."
"They were trapped by a sudden release of flood waters at the Mundali Barrage. Five of them were swept away from the herd," they said.
"However, after the barrage gates downstream were opened to release the excess water, the elephants swam to safer places," said Forest Ranger R K Nayak.
Struggling in flood waters for around five hours and swept away for over 15 km, the elephants appeared very tired and tense as they managed to reach the right embankment of the Mahanadi river, he said.
"After taking rest for about an hour, the elephants found their way back to the Athgarh forest area in the evening," he added.