Polar bear attacks man on island off northern Norway

Associated Press

Berlin – Norwegian authorities said a polar bear attacked and injured a cruise ship employee who was leading tourists off a ship Saturday on an Arctic archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

The Joint Rescue Coordination for Northern Norway tweeted that the attack occurred when the tourists from the “MS Bremen” landed on the most northern island of the Svalbard archipelago. The region is known for its remote terrain, glaciers, reindeer and polar bears.

“The man was attacked by a polar bear and injured on his head,” German Hapag Lloyd Cruises, who operates the “MS Bremen,” said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The cruise company said the polar bear was shot dead “in an act of self-defense.” It was not clear who shot the bear.

The injured man was taken by helicopter to the town of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen island.

“He was flown out, was responsive, and is currently undergoing medical treatment,” spokeswoman Negar Etminan said of their employee, adding that the victim was not in a life-threatening condition. He was not identified.

Etminan said the man was a “polar bear guard” traveling aboard the “MS Bremen” because all cruise ships traveling in the northern region are obliged to have polar bear guards on board.

Arctic tourism to the region has risen sharply in the last few years and is now in high season. A Longyearbyen port schedule showed that 18 cruise ships will be docking at the port in the next week.