British teen killed by polar bear in Arctic: official

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A polar bear mauled a British teenager to death and severely injured four other Britons in the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard Friday before it was shot, authorities said.

The bear attacked a campsite set up by 14 people on a trip organised by the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) early Friday, killing one boy and injuring two other youths and two adult leaders, according to authorities.

"The kids are all between 16 and 20 years old. The boy who died was 17," Svalbard deputy governor Lars Erik Alfheim told AFP.

The four people injured had all sustained "serious head injuries, but have been stabilised," he said, adding that they were being airlifted to a hospital in Tromsoe, in the north of the Norwegian mainland.

All of those involved were British citizens, he said.

The attack happened near the Von Post glacier, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the archipelago capital of Longyearbyen.

Police received a call from the distressed campers, using a satellite phone, at around 7:30 am (0530 GMT) and quickly sent helicopters to the site.

The injured were initially taken to the small local hospital in Longyearbyen before being sent on to the mainland.

Alfheim said it was unclear how the bear had managed to hurt so many people before the campers shot and killed it.

"The bear attacked a camp site. We have investigators trying to figure out exactly what happened," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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