Bear Mauls 9 People

GIFU - A bear attacked nine people, most of them tourists, Saturday afternoon at a bus terminal at the end of the Norikura Skyline road in a mountainous area in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, seriously injuring four men, police said. Of the nine people who are in their 20s to 60s, the other five were slightly injured, according to the police and the fire department headquarters in Takayama.

One of the seriously injured is a 66-year-old man from Yokohama, one of the slightly injured is a 51-year-old female employee of a tourism company in Nagano Prefecture and the rest include workers at a local lodging facility, police said. Other tourists who were at the scene at the time of the attack at around 2:30 p.m. escaped danger.

The 1.3-meter-long bear intruded into the terminal building after attacking some tourists at a nearby mountain and the bus terminal, located 2,702 meters above sea level, police and witnesses said.

Employees at the terminal building eventually blocked up the bear in a souvenir shop inside the building. Hunters later shot the bear dead.

An employee who tried to prevent the bear from storming into the building said, ‘‘I tried to close the entrance to the terminal building, but it was too late.’’

Kazuhiko Maita, an expert on bears at the Institute for Asian Black Bear Research and Preservation in Hiroshima Prefecture, said it is unusual for a bear to attack that many people at a tourism site and suggested it may have fallen into a panic.

The Norikura skyline is open only during the mountaineering season from May 15 through Oct 31 and is off-limits to private cars. Tourists use buses and taxicabs during the season.

Via Japan Today