Japan safari park worker killed in bear attack

A park employee was killed when an Asian black bear managed to climb into her vehicle, at the Gunma Safari Park in Tomioka, Gunma prefecture, on Aug 16, 2016.
A park employee was killed when an Asian black bear managed to climb into her vehicle, at the Gunma Safari Park in Tomioka, Gunma prefecture, on Aug 16, 2016.PHOTO: YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

TOKYO (AFP) - A safari park employee in Japan died on Tuesday (Aug 16) after being attacked by a bear which had somehow climbed into her car, local officials and police said.

An Asian black bear was seen climbing into a small vehicle at the Gunma Safari Park, northwest of Tokyo, and attacking park employee Kiyomi Saito inside the car, a local police spokesman said.

Ms Saito, 46, suffered injuries to the left side of her chest and stomach and was rushed to hospital where she was later confirmed dead, the spokesman said.

"The details are not yet known, including how the bear got inside the car," he told the AFP, adding the animal was a five-year-old male and weighing 160kg.

The safari park was "under police investigation and no details can be confirmed at this point", said Mr Yusuke Yamazaki, a park employee.

A series of wild bear attacks terrified Japan earlier this year, with four people being killed in the northern part of the country in separate incidents in the wild in May and June.

In 2012, an unknown number of bears escaped from snow-covered Hachimantai bear park in northern Akita prefecture, which had kept 38 animals, most of them brown bears.

Two female workers at the facility were later found dead.