Bear attack in northern Japan leaves two women dead

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Media captionPolice believe the bears climbed on to snowdrifts to escape

Two women have died after being attacked by bears at a park in Japan.

Police were alerted to the attack at the Hachimantai park in northern Akita prefecture shortly after 10:00 local time (01:00 GMT) on Friday.

The victims are believed to have been park employees. Reports say a third member of staff in the park at the time managed to escape.

A group of local hunters has found and killed some of the bears, but it is unclear how many have escaped.

Police have told local residents and schoolchildren to stay indoors. Local authorities have closed some roads, with police and firefighters patrolling the area.

The park holds 38 bears and is open to tourists in the summer months; reports say it was currently still closed to the public.

"It's difficult to say exactly how many bears left their cages," a local police spokesman told Agence France Presse.

After initially not approaching the site for fear of more bears on the loose, police were later able to recover the bodies of the two women, local police told AFP.