Russian guide dies after sustaining critical injuries when members of snowmobile expedition break through ice


A Russian tour guide who sustained critical injuries when he and five other members of a snowmobile expedition broke through the sea ice  April 27 in Tempelfjorden died Monday night, according to a hospital official.

“We can confirm that a man in his ’30s died as a result of the injuries he suffered in the accident,” Jan Fredrik Frantzen, a spokesperson for  University Hospital of North Norway  in  Tromsø, told Svalbardposten. “He has been under intensive care since he arrived at UNN.”

The guide’s condition was described as critical and unstable upon arrival at the hospital, but was upgraded to critical yet stable last week.

The incident occurred when 25 people participating in a five-day tour operated by the Arctic Travel Company Grumant were traveling from Pyramiden to Longyearbyen. They were split into three groups, including one with nine people affected by the ice’s collapse. Six people fell into the water, four of whom were retrieved by a rescue helicopter 48 minutes later and two who reached solid ice were rescued shortly after. Three more people originally thought missing were found nearby at Fredheim after they managed to avoid falling in.

Seven people were injured or suffered hypothermia, with the guide and a female tourist transported to the hospital in Tromsø for treatment of severe injuries.

Ice conditions in some parts of the vicinity were reported to be unsafe at the time, although police officials investigating the case say they are not yet certain of the exact route the group was following. The Governor of Svalbard is continuing to investigate the matter to determine if criminal charges are warranted.