WORLD NEWS

Woman injured by polar bear on Norway’s Svalbard Islands

Aug 8, 2022, 6:43 AM | Updated: 1:58 pm
FILE: A sign warns of the danger of polar bears near the airport close to a campground where a man ...
FILE: A sign warns of the danger of polar bears near the airport close to a campground where a man was killed by a polar bear on Svalbard archipelago on August 28, 2020 at Longyearbyen, Norway. Polar bears are a common danger in the area and people are urged not to leave Longyearbyen on foot without a gun. Since 1971 five people have been killed by polar bears around Longyearbyen. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A polar bear attacked a campsite Monday in Norway’s remote Arctic Svalbard Islands, injuring a French tourist, authorities said, adding that the wounds weren’t life-threatening. The bear was later killed.

The woman, who was not identified, was part of a tour group of 25 people camping at Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, which sits more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland. The campsite was located across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago.

Authorities responded to the news of the attack, which came shortly before 8:30 a.m., by flying there in a helicopter, chief superintendent Stein Olav Bredli.

“The French woman suffered injuries to an arm. Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area,” he said. Further details on her injuries weren’t disclosed. She was flown by helicopter to the hospital in Longyearbyen.

The main newspaper on the Arctic archipelago, Svalbardposten, said the victim was a woman in her 40s, and quoted local hospital official Solveig Jacobsen as saying that the woman was slightly injured.

Bredil later told Svalbardposten that the animal has been “badly injured” and following “a professional assessment” it was put to sleep. It was unclear how it was killed.

Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms. At least five people have been killed by polar bears since the 1970s. The last time it happened was in 2020, when a 38-year-old Dutchman was killed.

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

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 bear was later found and killed by authorities.

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Woman injured by polar bear on Norway’s Svalbard Islands