Solar eclipse watcher attacked by polar bear

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A POLAR bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he slept on a remote Arctic island, clawing his back before being driven away by gunshots.

“It was going for my head. I used my hands to protect my head,” Jakub Moravec said from his hospital bed in the Svalbard archipelago’s main town. Mr Moravec was among a group of six people hoping to get a good look at the solar eclipse.

Jakub Moravec is recovering after being attacked by a polar bear whilst sleeping in a tent. Picture: AP

Jakub Moravec is recovering after being attacked by a polar bear whilst sleeping in a tent. Picture: AP

The group were camping north of Longyearbyen when the attack happened.

Thousand of tourists have descended on Svalbard and the Faroe Islands ahead of the rare phenomenon that will occur today.

Mr Moravec told local media he was fine and hoped to be discharged from hospital soon. No-one else was injured in the attack.

Zuzana Hakova, a member of the group sleeping in a different tent, told local newspaper Svalbardposten that her mother shot three times at the bear, prompting the animal to flee. The bear was eventually found and killed by authorities, said police spokesman Vidar Arnesen.

Road sign sporting a polar bear notifing motorists of their presence outside the arctic town of Longyearbyen in Norway. Picture: Getty

Road sign sporting a polar bear notifing motorists of their presence outside the arctic town of Longyearbyen in Norway. Picture: Getty

To Aksel Bilicz, manager of the Longyearbyen hospital, the incident was a reminder of the dangers of the Arctic.

“I think there’s been a tendency, even before the eclipse, that a lot of people come here and they don’t know where they’re going,” he told the AP. “Both the weather conditions and the bears can be very dangerous.”

Lodging on Svalbard has been sold out for years ahead of the eclipse. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms while moving outside of settlements.

Mr Moravec said the bear attack had not turned him off the beauties of the Arctic.

“I’d gladly go out to the mountains on Svalbard again,” he was quoted as saying by Svalbardposten.

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