Man dead after polar bear attacks camping site in middle of night

A man has died after a polar bear attacked a camping site on Norway’s Svalbard Islands in the middle of the night.

Campsite manager Johan Jacobus Kootte, 38, was rushed to hospital in Longyearbyen after the animal targeted the area, which sits more than 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland, just before 4am on Friday.

Dutch national Mr Kootte was declared dead by medics soon after arriving in hospital, a government statement said.

A post-mortem will be conducted at the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle.

The polar bear was shot by an onlooker and later found dead in a car park by the nearby airport.

No-one else was injured in the attack, but six people were admitted to hospital with shock.

The victim was reportedly the fifth person to be killed by a polar bear in the archipelago in nearly 50 years.

An estimated 25,000 bears live in the Arctic, while the archipelago is home to almost 3,000 people and almost 1,000 bears, according to the Norwegian authorities.

Deputy governor Soelvi Elvedah said the tragic incident was a ‘strong reminder that we are in polar bear country and must take the precautions to secure ourselves’.

He said: ‘Polar bears can be found all over Svalbard and be encountered anywhere throughout the year.’

The most recent fatality was a British teenager, 17, who was on a British Schools Exploring expedition when he was attacked near the Von Postbreen glacier in 2011.

A local authority website advises visitors and locals to carry firearms with them while leaving settlements, warning polars bears could be found anywhere.

It urges people ‘to stay as far away as possible to avoid situations that could be dangerous for you and for the bear’.

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