(.) British boy had polar bear teeth in skull: father

8th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

One of the British youths attacked by a polar bear in the Norwegian Arctic had to have its teeth removed from his skull, his father said, as the uninjured survivors prepared to return home Monday.

Patrick Flinders, 16, from Jersey in the Channel Islands, suffered a fractured skull in the attack Friday on Spitsbergen island, which killed 17-year-old Horatio Chapple.

"The bear attacked his head while he was trying to fight it off and bit into him, so the operation he had in Norway was to remove some bone and some of the polar bear's teeth from his skull," his father Terry Flinders told BBC radio.

"He can walk and he's starting to get back to his normal, cheeky self."

Flinders punched the 250-kilogramme polar bear on the nose in an attempt to fend it off, but he was smashed across the face and head by the animal, which also ripped his ear and damaged his eye.

The teenager is being treated in Southampton on the southern English coast, but his father said he worried more about the mental scars than the physical ones.

"He can't really remember what happened. It's starting to come out now a little bit but I don't want to push him," Terry Flinders said.

"I think that's going to be the worst. The injuries, six months down the line, they'll all be gone.

"Whereas to me, I just don't understand how anybody can go through that, especially 16-, 17-year-old kids, seeing another lad ripped to pieces."

Flinders and another of the injured teenagers, Scott Bennell-Smith, 17, were transferred to hospitals in Britain over the weekend.

The two other injured party members -- including expedition leader Michael "Spike" Reid, 29, who shot the bear dead -- and the remaining eight who were not wounded were making their way back to Britain on Monday.

The teenagers were travelling on a British Schools Exploring Society expedition. They were camped on the Von Postbreen glacier on Spitsbergen, north of the Norwegian mainland.

According to Norway's TV2, Friday's attack was the first deadly polar bear attack in the Svalbard archipelago since 1995.

© 2011 AFP

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