Polar bear wounds tourist on eve of eclipse

A Czech tourist was mauled by a polar bear in Svalbard in Norway's Arctic on Thursday, police said, illustrating the potential danger for those arriving to see this week's total eclipse of the sun.

Polar bear wounds tourist on eve of eclipse
The carcass of the bear after it wsa shot. Photo: Håkan Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix
"We were sleeping in the tent, and when I woke up the polar bear was standing on top of me," Jakub Moravec (37) told NRK from hospital after the attack on Wednesday night. "It went straight to my head. Luckily my colleague shot it." 
Zuzanna Hakova, who was part of the same Czech tour party, said that her mother had shot the bear three times using a revolver. 
"We woke to shouts of "Bear! Bear!" coming from the second tent," she told NRK. "We had a rifle on the outside of each tent and we also had a revolver in our tent. The ones being attacked had no chance of getting their weapon, so my mother took her revolver and shot the bear three times." 
Moravec, one of a group of six campers, is now being treated in Longyearbyen, the islands' capital, for injuries to his face and arm.  
The Czech group were travelling deep into the harsh Svalbard landscape to find the perfect place to watch tomorrow's eclipse. 
The Svalbard islands, an archipelago in the Arctic, and the Faroe Islands, a Danish autonomy territory in the North Atlantic, are the only two places on land where the eclipse will be fully visible. 
The moon is expected to pass between Earth and the sun on Friday, with a total eclipse beginning at 1011 GMT in Svalbard and lasting for three minutes.
It is the only total eclipse this year, and some 1,500 to 2,000 tourists from around the world are expected to descend on Svalbard for the chance to observe it.
Local authorities have warned eclipse chasers of the dangers posed by polar bears. People leaving Svalbard's inhabited areas are required to be accompanied by an armed local guide or carry a rifle.
According to police, the six campers were taking part in a snowmobile and ski tour some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Longyearbyen, the main town in Svalbard, when the attack occurred.
It was not immediately known whether the tourists were in town for the eclipse.
There have been five fatal polar bear attacks in Svalbard in the past four decades. The most recent one occurred in 2011, involving a 17-year-old British student on a school trip.
Some 3,000 polar bears live in the region, outnumbering the 2,500 inhabitants.


Norway digitally freezes national treasures and stores them in Arctic archive

Norway’s National Museum has preserved some of the country’s most treasured artefacts digitally and stored them in a former mine on Arctic archipelago Svalbard.

Norway digitally freezes national treasures and stores them in Arctic archive
Photo: Bartek Luks on Unsplash

The Arctic World Archive was originally constructed in 2017 to “protect the world’s most important cultural relics”, the National Museum said on its website.

The data preservation facility is located on the island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago, not far from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The National Museum has now placed its entire collection of around 400,000 items as digital copies on plastic film rolls, which are to be stored at the Longyearbyen site.

“The dry, cold and low-oxygen air gives optimal conditions for storing digital archives and the film rolls will have a lifetime of around 1,000 years in the archive,” the museum writes. Emissions emitted by the archive are low due to its low energy consumption.

Offline storage of the archives also insures them against cyber attacks, the museum said.

In addition to all data from the National Museum collection database, high-resolution digital images of works by selected artists are included in the archive.

Works to be stored include ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch, ‘Winter Night in the Mountains’ by Harald Sohlberg, the Baldishol Tapestry and Queen Maud’s ball dress.

“At the National Museum we have works from antiquity until today. We work with the same perspective on the future. The collection is not only ours, but also belongs to the generations after us,” National Museum director Karin Hindsbo said via the museum’s website.

“By storing a copy of the entire collection in the Arctic World Archive, we are making sure the art will be safe for many centuries,” Hindsbo added.

In addition to the Norwegian artefacts, organisations from 15 other countries are represented in the archive, including national museums in Mexico, Brazil and India; the Vatican library, Sweden’s Moderna Museet and Unicef.

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