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Bear attack victims return home

Injured survivors of a polar bear attack in Norway that left an Eton pupil dead are being evacuated to the UK.

Patrick Flinders - whose head was said to have been in the animal's mouth - and Scott Bennell-Smith were due to be transferred to hospitals closer to home after landing on British soil.

The two teenagers were sharing a tent with fatally wounded Horatio Chapple, 17, when the incident took place on Friday.

Patrick, 16, from Jersey, has been hailed a hero and found local fame after punching the 250kg animal on the nose in an attempt to fend off the attack, his father said. He and Scott, 17, from St Mellion, Cornwall, underwent surgery after being mauled by the animal that killed their companion.

Terry Flinders, 58, said he would be relieved to have his son back. Mr Flinders said that his son has a fractured skull and had undergone an operation in Norway to remove small pieces of bone. He will be assessed before being allowed to return home.

The bear had Patrick's head in its mouth but miraculously he managed to escape. He also suffered arm injuries. Mr Flinders said his son's face and head are badly swollen but that he spoke to him on the phone and he sounded well.

"He said: 'Dad, I've got a bone to pick with you, that bit you did in the paper where you said if the polar bear had glasses it would have gone for me because I was the chubbiest!'. All the nurses had been laughing about it."

The teenagers were part of a group travelling on a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) expedition, which was camped on the Von Postbreen glacier near Longyearbyen on Svalbard, north of the Norwegian mainland.

Plans were being made to bring home two other members of the party who were injured - Michael "Spike" Reid, 29, the expedition leader who shot the bear, and 27-year-old fellow leader Andy Ruck - when medics and transport authorities allow, the trip organisers added.

The BSES announced it had decided to end the £3,000-per-head expedition on the advice of the Svalbard authorities and in accordance with the wishes of the group leaders.


From Belfast Telegraph