It may seem like an odd law for a town plagued by polar bear attacks, but officials have placed a ban on dying on an island in the Arctic circle. In one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, the ground is covered in permafrost which prevents bodies from decomposing

Longyearbyen, where dying is illegal

In one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, permafrost prevents the dead from decomposing.

To prevent disease from spreading, authorities have had to ban people from dying in the town.

But this strange settlement, known as Longyearbyen, could prove useful to scientists.

Its graveyard contains the remains of a number of victims of the deadly Spanish Flu that killed as many as 100 million people worldwide in 1918.

Samples of the Spanish Flu virus have been extracted from some of the bodies so researchers can study the disease in an attempt to prevent a similar outbreak.

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It may seem like an odd law for a town plagued by polar bear attacks, but officials have placed a ban on dying on an island in the Arctic circle. In one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, the ground is covered in permafrost which prevents bodies from decomposing

It may seem like an odd law for a town plagued by polar bear attacks, but officials have placed a ban on dying on an island in the Arctic circle. In one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, the ground is covered in permafrost which prevents bodies from decomposing

Longyearbyen is a coal-mining town in the remote Svalbard chain of islands with a population of around 2,000 residents.

Situated north of mainland Europe, Svalbard is about halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole, 620 miles (1,000 km) to the north.

Average temperatures in February are -17°C (1.4°F), although they have been known to plummet to as low as -46.3°C (-51.3°F) around this time of year.

The Norwegian archipelago brought in the strange statute in 1950, when it was discovered that bodies buried beneath the freezing dirt were not rotting, according to a new report by Half as Interesting.

This presents a serious risk to residents, as 11 people died and were buried in the town during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

The true global mortality rate from the pandemic is not known, but an estimated 10 per cent to 20 per cent of those who were infected died.

This would lead to a death toll of between 50 to 100 million people.

Researchers have since conducted a study on the permafrost phenomenon that preserves the corpses in the graveyard.

Situated north of mainland Europe, Svalbard is about halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole, 620 miles (1,000 km) to the north. This image shows tourists riding sleds outside the town

Situated north of mainland Europe, Svalbard is about halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole, 620 miles (1,000 km) to the north. This image shows tourists riding sleds outside the town

Concerned over the spread of disease, authorities brought in a law banning residents from shuffling off this mortal coil while on the archipelago. A road sign sporting a polar bear notifies motorists of their presence in the region

Concerned over the spread of disease, authorities brought in a law banning residents from shuffling off this mortal coil while on the archipelago. A road sign sporting a polar bear notifies motorists of their presence in the region

Average temperatures in February are -17°C (1.4°F), although they have been known to plummet to as low as -46.3°C (-51.3°F) around this time of year. This image shows colourful huts outside the town

Average temperatures in February are -17°C (1.4°F), although they have been known to plummet to as low as -46.3°C (-51.3°F) around this time of year. This image shows colourful huts outside the town

In August 1998, 80 years after the Spanish flu pandemic swept the world, Dr. Kirsty Duncan of the University of Windsor lead a team of scientists to the region.

They examined tissue from a person who died in the town, and found that his body had preserved the Influenza virus since his death from Spanish Flu.

Explaining the law in 2017, Jan Christian Meyer, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in Trondheim, said: ‘In Svalbard, Norway, there is a ban on dying.

‘The reason for this is that the permanently frozen ground will not only tend to keep your buried remains from decomposing and push them to the surface.

‘It may also perfectly preserve the disease that killed you, for locals to pick up later.

‘If you seem to be about to expire, every effort will be made to send you to the mainland.

The Norwegian archipelago brought in the strange statute in 1950, when it was discovered that bodies buried beneath the freezing dirt were not rotting. This image shows the town centre

The Norwegian archipelago brought in the strange statute in 1950, when it was discovered that bodies buried beneath the freezing dirt were not rotting. This image shows the town centre

The permafrost effect presents a serious risk to residents, as 11 people died and were buried in the town during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. This image shows the town's harbour

The permafrost effect presents a serious risk to residents, as 11 people died and were buried in the town during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. This image shows the town’s harbour

Researchers have since conducted a study on the permafrost phenomenon that preserves the corpses in the graveyard. They found that a body they examine had preserved the Influenza virus since his death from Spanish Flu. This image shows mountains outside the town

Researchers have since conducted a study on the permafrost phenomenon that preserves the corpses in the graveyard. They found that a body they examine had preserved the Influenza virus since his death from Spanish Flu. This image shows mountains outside the town

‘If you should die there anyway, you most certainly will not be buried there, because funerals don’t work the way they are supposed to.

‘You can apply to have your cremated remains put into the ground, but it requires state approval.’

Death is an ever-present risk on the islands.

In February 2017, four adults and two children were inside a house when an avalanche hit, knocking the building off its foundations.

Thankfully they escaped, but two years previously two people were killed in an avalanche in the same area.

Polar bears are also said to attack people on sight and residents are only allowed to shoot them in self-defence.

Longyearbyen is a coal-mining town in the remote Svalbard chain of islands with a population of around 2,000 residents

Longyearbyen is a coal-mining town in the remote Svalbard chain of islands with a population of around 2,000 residents

Posted on; DailyMail>>

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