A NORTH-East couple cheated death when an elephant with a bad case of toothache charged their safari car, flipping it over.

Chris Hare and Helen Jennings, both 40 and from Durham, were celebrating their engagement with a safari adventure in South Africa’s world famous Kruger National Park when a huge bull elephant attacked their Hyundai Atos hire car, dumping it upside down in the bush.

The tourists were left traumatised but both escaped serious injury.

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Miss Jennings was unscathed, while Mr Hare sunk down at the roadside holding an injury. He was treated at the scene by a doctor and taken to hospital.

Mr Hare said: “The big guy pushed a tusk against a door and rolled the car. It was terrifying.

“When I came round the corner, there was this big guy right in front of us. He walked towards us and I pulled off the road.

“I saw him step against the car, push his tusk against Helen’s door and roll the car over. It was unbelievable and I thought: ‘I can’t believe this is happening’.”

“We were very scared and we’re just glad it’s all over. But at least we’ve got a nice story to tell our grandchildren one day.”

Miss Jennings’ mother, Barbara, said: “I spoke to Helen just after it happened. They thought they were going to die."

Moments before, the elephant had repeatedly rammed a Chevrolet Aveo hatchback with two American tourists inside – at one point picking it up and dumping it into the dirt.

Vasti Fourie, another tourist who witnessed the incidents on Monday (November 12) and took these pictures, said: “It happened so quickly. I’ve never seen anything like this and I’m sure they haven’t either.”

After the incident, the elephant disappeared into the bush.

Rangers took some of the animal’s blood from the British couple’s car and believe it went on the rampage due to a tooth abscess.