Two Sri Lanka Cricket groundstaff at the Sooriyawewa Stadium in Hambantota have died in what is believed to have been an elephant attack, the board confirmed.
Not many details have been released with regard to the attacks, though it is being speculated the attack may have been as a result of a sole elephant. The bodies of the two staff members, who were cycling home after work around 9pm local time, are understood to have been found several hundred metres apart.
The incident, which occurred in the vicinity of the stadium, comes a little over a week prior to the ongoing Lanka Premier League matches shifting from Colombo to Hambantota for the Eliminator, Qualifiers and Final. The Eliminator and first Qualifier will take place on December 19.
Elephant attacks are not uncommon in rural Sri Lanka, with the human-elephant conflict a longstanding issue. The problem has become more widespread since the end of the 30-year civil war in 2009, following which the country's development plans saw areas previously straddled by native wildlife encroached upon by humans resulting in habitat loss.
Hambantota has been one of the areas which has been most affected in this sense. Last year, 10 elephants and four humans killed in the area alone. Hambantota, once known for its wildlife, is now in the midst of a major development drive. It currently boasts of a port, airport and highway, while the establishment of a new city will reportedly use up some 20,000 acres of land.
An elephant management zone has been proposed by way of a solution, though this has yet to be gazetted by the government, something which had resulted in protests by farmers in Hambantota earlier this year.