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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Man killed by polar bear on Norway’s Arctic Svalbard islands

The victim hasn't yet been identified, the governor's office said, adding the early morning attack was being investigated. No one else was injured, but six people were hospitalized for shock.

By: AP | Copenhagen | August 28, 2020 7:01:06 pm
A warning sign depicting a polar bear is seen at the campsite outside Longyearbyen, on the Svalbard islands, Norway. (Photo: NTB Scanpix/Line Nagell Ylvisaker via REUTERS)

A polar bear attacked a camping site and killed a man in the remote Svalbard Islands on Friday, authorities on an Arctic island said, adding the animal was killed.

The man was rushed to the hospital in Longyearbyen where he was declared dead by doctors, Deputy Governor Soelvi Elvedah said. Longyearbyen is the main settlement in Norway’s Arctic Svalbard archipelago, which sits more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland.

The victim hasn’t yet been identified, the governor’s office said, adding the early morning attack was being investigated. No one else was injured, but six people were hospitalized for shock.

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

The website says bears may appear anywhere on Svalbard and urges people  “to stay as far away as possible to avoid situations that could be dangerous for you and for the bear”.

An estimated 20,000-25,000 bears live in the Arctic.

Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms while moving outside of settlements.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK said the victim was the fifth person to have been killed by polar bears since 1971. The last time it happened was in 2001 when a teenager was killed.

In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen, clawing his back before being driven away by gunshots.

The tourist, who was slightly injured, was among a group of six people on a combined ski and snow scooter trip on the remote islands. The bear was eventually found and killed by local authorities. (AP)

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