Polar bear kills camper on Norway’s remote Svalbard islands


A polar bear attacked a campsite on Friday and killed a foreign national in the isolated islands of Svalbard, authorities on an arctic island said, adding that the animal was killed.The man was rushed to Longyearbyen hospital where he was pronounced dead by medics, Deputy Governor Soelvi Elvedah said. Longyearbyen is the main village of the Norwegian archipelago of Arctic Svalbard, located more than 800 kilometers north of the Norwegian mainland.

The attack took place just before 4 a.m. local time and was under investigation, the governor’s office said. The identity and citizenship of the victim were not immediately disclosed. No one else was injured, but six people were hospitalized for shock.

An autopsy will be performed at the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle.

The polar bear was found dead in a parking lot near the nearby airport after being shot by spectators, the governor’s office said in a statement on its website.

It was not clear whether the polar bear was one of two animals to roam the region this week, the governor’s office said.

The website says bears can spawn anywhere on Svalbard and urges people to “stay as far away as possible to avoid situations that could be dangerous for you and the bear.” It is estimated that 20,000 to 25,000 bears live in the Arctic.

Svalbard is littered with polar bear warnings. Visitors who choose to sleep outside receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms when moving outside settlements.

A tourist in 2015 takes a photo of a teddy bear of the type that can be seen on the Svalbard Islands. (Dominique Faget / AFP / Getty Images)

Norwegian broadcaster NRK said the victim was the fifth person to have been killed by polar bears since 1971. The last time this happened was in 2011 when a British teenager was killed.

In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he and others camped north of Longyearbyen, grabbing hold of his back before being chased away by gunfire. The slightly injured tourist was part of a group of six on a combined ski and snowmobile trip to remote islands. The bear was eventually found and killed by local authorities.


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