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Bear tragedy expedition called off

Plans are being made for an expedition party to return to the UK after a 17-year-old boy was killed by a polar bear in Norway.

Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, died and four other people were injured on Friday after the bear attacked a group travelling on a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) expedition.

BSES chairman Edward Watson announced on Saturday that the expedition had been called off as a result of the tragedy and all members would be brought home.

The family of aspiring medic Horatio hailed him as a "strong, fearless and kind" boy, who had been "so excited about his plans to be a doctor". In a statement, they praised his "amazing sense of humour and ability to laugh at himself".

The four other members of Horatio's party who were injured in the incident were recovering in hospital in Norway following surgery, with plans in place to bring them home imminently.

Eton College said in a statement: "Horatio was a very well-liked member of the school and respected by masters and boys alike. His loss is devastating to those who knew him. We extend our sympathy and condolences to Horatio's family and friends."

The schoolboy's body was due to be transported from Svalbard to Tromso by plane on Saturday.

Meanwhile the father of injured man Michael "Spike" Reid, an expedition leader who shot the bear, spoke of his pride at his son's bravery. Mr Reid, 29, had been sleeping in a nearby tent when the bear attacked, and went to assist, but he too was set upon. In an email sent from his bed at the University Hospital in Tromso, where the survivors were taken, he told his family how he fired at the bear.

His father, Peter Reid, 65, from Plymouth, said: "He told us the bear attacked the tent with three people in it, and he and another leader went to help and were viciously attacked by the bear. He managed to get away, ran to get a gun and shot the bear."

Michael Reid, who lives in London and works as an events co-ordinator for the Royal Geographical Society, sustained injuries to his face and neck. Fellow leader Andrew Ruck, 27, believed to be from Aberdeen, Scott Bennell-Smith, 17, from Cornwall, and Patrick Flinders, 16, from Jersey, also underwent treatment and were described as stable.

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