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

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A polar bear has attacked a camping site and killed a foreign national in the remote Svalbard Islands on Friday.

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 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland.

The attack occurred just before 4am and is being investigated, the governor’s office said. The victim’s identity and citizenship were not immediately given. No-one else was injured, but six people were admitted to hospital with shock.

The Longyearbyen camp site after a polar bear attacked it
The Longyearbyen camp site where the polar attacked (Line Nagell Ylvisaker / NTB scanpix via AP)

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

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

“This is also a strong reminder that we are in polar bear country and must take the precautions to secure ourselves,” Mr Elvedahl said. “Polar bears can be found all over Svalbard and be encountered anywhere throughout the year.”

A parking area part of the Longyearbyen camp site
A parking area part of the Longyearbyen camp site (Line Nagell Ylvisaker / NTB scanpix via AP)

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 2011 when a British 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.

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