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Japan: Escaped bears kill two women

Residents of Akita prefecture have been told to stay indoors as authorities struggle to account for up to 38 bears on the run.
Japan loose bears 12 04 20Enlarge
Up to 38 mostly brown bears have escaped from their enclosure at the Hachimantai bear park in Akita prefecture, Japan, killing two staff members and forcing locals to stay indoors. (Barbara Sax/AFP/Getty Images)

A sloth of bears who escaped from a park enclosure in northern Japan has killed two women.

News.com.au says that the exact number of bears on the loose is unknown, but that they were among 38 mostly brown bears usually kept at the Hachimantai bear park in Akita prefecture.

AFP describes how the bodies of the women had been recovered within the gated park, and were thought to be those of workers at the facility.

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A third staff member managed to escape. 

Authorities were struggling to gain control of the situation, according to The Telegraph, which quoted a spokeswoman for Akita Police as saying: "We cannot go close to the park because we don't know which cages are open, and how many bears are on the loose."

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The BBC reports that local residents and schoolchildren had been told to stay indoors; roads were closed; and police and firefighters were patrolling the area.

Emergency services were alerted to the situation at 10 a.m. local time, and by nightfall local hunters had managed to shoot at least six of the bears, MSN News says.

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