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New evidence on the cause of a tragedy at Kapp Thordsen

Kapp ThordsenIn winter 1872-1873, 17 trappers died at Svenskehuset (swedish house) at Kapp Thordsen, north of Isfjorden. A new research found that they died of lead poisoning.

The house, built in 1872 by a Swedish company, contained large supplies of hermetics and although the men had sufficient food, they all 17 died during the winter.

Scurvy has been assumed as a probable cause of their death but lead poisoning and botulisme have also been mentioned.

Last summer, scientists from University Hospital of Tromsų and Svalbard Museum excavated the graves at Svenskehuset. They took samples from two skeletons and bone analysis revealed high levels of lead, whereas the lead levels in the soil near the graves where neglectable.

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Population boom in Svalbard for the next years ?

Population boom in Svalbard ?Svalbard authorities are expecting a population increase of 10 to 20 percent for the next five to ten years in the archipelago.

The leader of Longyearbyen local municipality Kjell Mork told the Norwegian radio NRK that many more people will move to Svalbard for the next years.

Both UNIS, the university at Svalbard, and the tourism in the archipelago will expand. There are also plans to open a new coal mine to ensure further production to the Norwegian mining company SNSK - Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani.

Mining plays a major role in the community. SNSK runs two coal mines in Longyearbyen and Svea, and coal mining employs about half the residents.

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A polar bear attacked by a shark in Svalbard ?

Greenland shark (Iceland) Already threatened by the decrease of ice, is the first Arctic predator under challenge from Greenland shark ? Scientists searching how far in the North the sharks hunt seals had the surprise to find a part of the jaw of a polar bear in the stomach of a Greenland shark.

The discovery has been done in June in Svalbard waters. "We never heard about a case like this before", said Kit Kovacs of the Norwegian Polar Institute. The bone measures 10 centimeters and would belong to a young polar bear.

"We can't say whether or not the shark took a swimming young bear" or if it ate a carcass, she added. "We don't know how active these sharks are as predators."

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