Terrified workers at a mining compound in one of Russia's most isolated regions are refusing to go to work after a pack of giant bears attacked and ate two of their colleagues.
At least 30 of the hungry animals have been seen prowling close to the mines in northern Kamchatka in search of food, where the mangled remains of the two workers, both guards, were found last week.
The co-workers at the compound in the Olyotorsky district are trapped and frightened: the gruesome discovery has left them too scared to venture out. A team of snipers, with orders to shoot the bears, is now being dispatched to confront the invasion after government officials authorized an off-season hunt.
A spokesman for the local government in the capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, said that the area was so isolated that it would take until at least Saturday to get there. Attempts to reach the scene by helicopter had to be abandoned because of thick fog.
The Kamchatka brown bear is one of the world's largest, with males growing to around 10 feet and weighing up to 1,540 pounds. They can also reach speeds of up to 30 mph despite their size.
The peninsula, nine time zones east of Moscow and twice the size of Britain, is home to an estimated 16,000 bears.
“In the interests of safety they didn't come out to work — the people are scared by the invasion of bears,” a spokesman for the Kamchatka emergencies ministry said. Villagers in nearby Khailino are also afraid to leave their homes after bears were seen rummaging through garbage.