Seventeen people were injured in Sri Lanka when two elephants ran amok at a religious festival, police said.

A temple custodian who was riding one of the animals was among those hurt, as well as 13 women who were scrambling to get out of the way of the marauding elephants at the Buddhist pageant on Saturday in Colombo.

Nobody was seriously injured, authorities said.

Elephant expert Jayantha Jayewardene said that the animals were in musth, a period when their reproductive hormones soar, and that said temple authorities had ignored proper procedures.

‘The pair should not have been used in the pageant. There was a clearly laid out system to assess the condition of the animal before allowing it to participate,’ Jayawardene told AFP.

Authorities in the central pilgrim city of Kandy were forced to withdraw a 70-year-old cow elephant from a gruelling parade in mid-August. The highly emaciated animal had been forced to walk for miles despite her visibly failing health.

Three years ago, two elephants brawled during a temple ceremony and caused a stampede in which one woman died and 12 were wounded.

Official records show there are about 200 domesticated elephants in a country where the population in the wild is estimated at about 7,500.

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