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Escaped bears kill two women in Japan

A group of bears escaped from their enclosure at a park in northern Japan and mauled two women to death before they were tracked down and killed, police said Friday.

The two victims, employees in their 60s and 70s at the Hachimantai bear park near Kazuno City in Akita prefecture, were believed to have been feeding the bears from outside the concrete fence before several of the animals escaped, The Associated Press reported. The animals may have taken advantage of high-piled snowdrifts to climb over the fence.

The women's mangled bodies were found hours after a third employee escaped and called for help, according to AP.

Local hunters shot and killed six of the animals, all within the gated park.

Akita prefectural police spokesman Haruki Itou told ABC News there was no chance to simply tranquilize the bears.

"We could not get anywhere near the animals, but could not afford to let them escape," Itou was quoted as saying. 

It wasn’t immediately clear how many bears escaped. The park held 38 animals, most of them brown bears, and was closed to the public at the time of the escape. Itou told ABC he believed all the animals had been accounted for.

Police had advised area residents and schoolchildren to stay indoors while authorities searched for the loose bears.

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