© By Othmar Vohringer
The Arctic Adventure expedition 2011 began on 23 July and was scheduled to run until 28 August, with students told they would "venture into the untouched beauty and wilderness of Svalbard.” Earlier in the year the governor of Svalbard issued a warning after reports of increased polar bear activity in and around Longyearbyen.
The first account of the attack came from Flinders' father, Terry. "The bear got into the tent where Patrick was with two friends, and he just, for some reason, grabbed hold of the other boy and just killed him," he told ITV Channel Television. "There were three of them in a tent and I don't really know too much, why he chose the other boy – perhaps he was the closest one. If he looked at Patrick, he was the chubbiest one, he probably had more meat on him, bless him.
"Patrick, I think, was probably in the middle, because he grabbed hold of his head next, and then his arm, and I don't know how Patrick got out to be honest.
"Unless it was when the guy came in and shot the bear and maybe that's how Patrick got away with it, because they actually shot the polar bear, but the young lad was already dead."
According to Flinder the camp was “secured with a bear tripwire but it had failed to activate. According to the news article on man had a rifle and managed to kill the polar bear but not before the animal killed Horatio and seriously injured the four others. According to witnesses the bear went into the tent as the teenagers were asleep and killed the first person he could get a hold of.
Longyearbyen residents say that over the years polar bear incidents have been frequent with bears breaking into cabins and attacking people. On a personal note to this tragic story it borders on insanity to organize school trips (expeditions) into areas that have a reputation of bears attacking people. I am sure there are other interesting places in the world where children are not exposes to marauding polar bears, or any other dangerous wildlife.
This reminds of a news story I read many years ago where teenagers in a similar school expedition to Africa where attacked by a pride of lions and that too ended in a bloodbath and the loos of human lives. Utterly irresponsible on part of the organizers.
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