A French woman attacked by a polar bear in Norway escapes with only minor injuries
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A polar bear attacked a campsite on Norway’s remote Arctic Svalbard islands on Monday and injured a French tourist, authorities said, adding that the injuries were not life-threatening. The bear was later killed.
The woman, who was not identified, was part of a tour group of 25 people camping in Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, which is more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Norwegian mainland The campsite was located across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in the arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
Authorities responded to news of the attack, which occurred shortly before 8:30 a.m., with Chief Superintendent Stein Olav Bredli flying there by helicopter.
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“The French woman suffered injuries to her arm. Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area,” he said. No further details about his injuries were released. She was taken by helicopter to the hospital in Longyearbyen.
The Arctic archipelago’s main newspaper, Svalbardposten, said the victim was a woman in her 40s and quoted local hospital official Solveig Jacobsen as saying the woman was slightly injured.
Bredil later told Svalbardposten that the animal was “severely injured” and after “a professional assessment” was put to sleep. It was unclear how he was killed.
Svalbard is littered with polar bear warnings. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from the 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 Dutch man was killed.
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It is estimated that between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic.
In 2015, a Czech tourist was dragged out of his tent by a polar bear while he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen, grabbing his back before being shot away. The bear was later found and killed by authorities.