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They Were Camping in the Arctic. Then, a 4am Visitor

Polar bear kills one in Norway's Svalbard Islands
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 28, 2020 8:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – A polar bear attacked a camping site and killed a foreign national in the remote Svalbard Islands on Friday, authorities said, adding that the animal itself was killed as well. 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 was being investigated, the governor's office said. The victim's identity and citizenship weren't immediately given. No one else was injured, but six people were hospitalized for shock, per the AP. The polar bear was found dead in a parking lot by the nearby airport after being shot by onlookers, the governor’s office said in a statement posted on its website.

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An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 bears live in the Arctic. It wasn't clear whether the polar bear was one of two polar bears seen roaming the area this week, per the governor’s office. "This is also a strong reminder that we are in polar bear country and must take the precautions to secure ourselves," Elvedah said. The website says bears may appear anywhere on Svalbard, which is dotted with warnings about them. 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. An autopsy in this most recent case will be conducted at the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle.

(Read more Norway stories.)

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