Czech tourist mauled by polar bear during run up to solar eclipse | News | DW | 19.03.2015
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Czech tourist mauled by polar bear during run up to solar eclipse

A man has been treated for his injuries after a polar bear attacked him on Svalbard. Authorities have been warning eclipse-chasing visitors about the dangers posed by the Arctic archipelago's polar bear population.

A Czech tourist received injuries to his face and arm on Thursday when a polar bear attacked him on the remote island of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean. The 37-year-old man was flown by helicopter to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The bear was immediately shot dead following the attack.

Sonnenfinsternis in Japan Flash-Galerie

A solar eclipse will be visible at 1011 UTC Friday across northern Europe.

The incident came on the eve of a total solar eclipse that will only be fully visible in far northern latitudes. Hotels in the region have long been sold out by visitors eager to get a glimpse of the rare event.

Authorities routinely warn visitors of the dangers posed by the archipelago's 3,000 polar bears which outnumber their 2,500 human neighbors.

"It is an ever-present danger," said Ronny Brunvoll, head of the Visit Svalbard organization. "Security is number one, two and three."

Outdoor enthusiast Jakub Moravec had been part of a group of six campers on a snowmobile and ski tour some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the main settlement of Longyearbyen in the Norwegian-administered archipelago of Svalbard.

The campers said they had strung a tripwire around the camp’s perimeter but the bear had slipped underneath.

Moravec told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that he woke up in his tent with a bear standing over him.

"My colleague used a gun, a revolver, and shot the polar bear," he said.

The polar bear then fled the shots. Officers from the governor’s office arrived by helicopter and killed the bear about 200 meters from the tents.

The most recent fatal encounter was in August 2011, when a 17-year-old British schoolboy was killed by a hungry polar bear during a school trip.

jar/lw (AFP, Reuters, dpa)