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A 7-year-old Japanese girl savaged by four dogs in Murupara this afternoon has been airlifted from Rotorua to Middlemore Hospital.
The child had been playing in the yard of a property owned by friends of the family when she was attacked by four Mastiff-type dogs belonging to the property owner.
The girl was initially airlifted to Rotorua Hospital, but she was transferred to Middlemore Hospital this evening.
She is still in a critical condition.
Police have completed the scene examination and will continue enquiries tomorrow.
The owners of the dogs are friends of the girl's family and are cooperating fully with the investigation. The dogs were immediately put to sleep by a vet.
BayTrust rescue helicopter pilot Art Kowalski said the young girl suffered extensive injuries to the majority of her face as well as puncture wounds to both arms, legs and hips.
He said the girl did not seem to speak much English and her father, who was travelling in the helicopter, was translating for paramedics.
Mr Kowalski said the girl might be transferred to either Waikato or Auckland hospitals shortly because her injuries were so severe.
St John Ambulance communications team manager Norm Ngatai said they received a call from the Murupara Medical Centre at 1.30pm today alerting them to the incident.
Those at the house where the attack happened had taken the girl to the medical centre.
A Rotorua Daily Post reporter, who is at the scene, said the house is on the main road, about 2km on the eastern outskirts of the township.
She said two police cars and an ambulance had just left the house. There were no other bystanders at the scene.
It looked liked a lifestyle property with animals, including turkeys, ducks and chickens wandering around the yard.
A neighbour did not want to comment.
Staff at the Murupara Medical Centre were also unable to comment.
A Whakatane District Council animal control spokesman said his team had been alerted to the incident by Murupara police about 3pm and were sending a team to help.
Police staff at Murupara said they were unable to comment at this stage.
It is not the first serious dog attack in the small Bay of Plenty township.
In April 2007, former Murupara St John volunteer Virginia Ohlson, 56, was fatally injured when two dogs, a pitbull and staffordshire-cross, attacked her in the street.
She was walking just 200m from her home when two dogs attacked.
She suffered multiple bites to her legs and died from trauma and shock on her way to hospital.