A man in India says his motorbike helmet saved his life during a chance encounter with tigers in the wild that left two of his friends dead.
Vikas Kumar, 23, miraculously lived to tell the tale after his bike crashed on a road passing through thick forests near Pilibhit city in Uttar Pradesh state, spilling him and his two friends out right next to the big cats.
It was already too late for the three men to avoid an accident when the defunct headlight of their bike fell upon the tigers lying right across the road and the driver panicked, crashing the bike.
The tigers pounced on the trio and killed the two friends, Sonu Kumar, 33, and Kandhai Lal, 35, within minutes, reported the Times of India.
Mr Kumar, who was riding pillion, survived the jaws of a tiger as it went for his head and the animal’s teeth sunk into his helmet. This gave him the time to run and climb up a tree.
Mr Kumar recounted the horrific experience that he will “never be able to forget” while speaking to the newspaper.
He said he watched in shock as the tigers tore into one of his friends and ended up nearly eating another as they screamed. The remains of the body of one of the victims was later found in the jungle.
“I could hear them scream for a few seconds and then it stopped. Sonu was killed in front of me. I was extremely scared but gathered courage to jump onto another tree later. I didn’t move one bit, closed my eyes and started praying. I knew that if the tigers found my location, they would kill me for sure. They are known to climb trees,” he said.
The tigers then continued to look for him, roaring all night as he spent it on the tree before help came in the morning.
Mr Kumar said they were warned before taking the route by locals but they didn’t pay heed as they were in a hurry to head home.
“One of the tigers pounced on me but I was saved by my helmet. Sonu and Kandhai couldn’t make it,” he said.
Police officer Kirit Kumar Rathod told ANI the bodies of the deceased have been sent for post mortem and a probe is underway.