9th August 2011
The other Fires who were not involved in the tragic incident returned
home to the UK on a chartered flight and were met in private by their
families, representatives of the British Exploring and specialist
counsellors. Prior to this, the young explorers had been together at a
safe base camp and undertaking short exploration projects.
The immediate phase of the crisis response
ended and British Exploring's focus moved to long-term assistance of
those affected, and full co-operation with inquiries into the tragic
incident of 5 August in Svalbard.
8th August 2011 - Press Release
Every Young Explorer still out in the field will return home tomorrow.
Rest assured, we will leave no stone unturned in investigating the tragic incident on 5 August in Svalbard.
The Norwegian authorities' enquiries are under way. In parallel we have begun to fully review procedures, examine equipment and gather witness statements, to understand if anything could have been done to prevent this tragic incident happening.
The investigation into the Chanzin Fire incident will be chaired by an independent third party who we will appoint shortly, and we will make our findings public. I am keen that this is a transparent process for the benefit not only of our Society but for the exploring community as a whole.
The Norwegian authorities have asked that we do not comment directly about the incident until their enquiries have concluded, and we will fully respect their wish.
I will not comment on speculation, at any stage.
A young man has lost his life, and four expedition members were injured. We remain committed to supporting those affected through this particularly difficult time in their lives.
8th August 2011
Group leaders Michael (‘Spike’) Reid and Andy Ruck, whose injuries were
severe, returned to the UK under the care of specialist medical
evacuation teams and were admitted to hospitals.
British Exploring announced a full independent
inquiry to understand if anything could have been done to prevent this
tragic incident happening.
7th August 2011
The injured Young Explorers, Scott Bennell-Smith and Patrick Flinders,
returned to the UK under the care of a specialist medical evacuation
team and were admitted to hospitals.
The uninjured members of the Chanzin Fire
returned to the UK and were met in private by their families,
representatives of the British Exploring and specialist counsellors.
6th August 2011
Every other Fire was safe and accounted for at the base camp, and a decision was taken to end the expedition.
The four injured expedition members from the Chanzin Fire were operated upon in Norway.
Medical evacuation arrangements were begun.
2nd Press Release 5th August 2011, 5.30pm
Having spoken to the family, we are now able to advise that the young explorer who died on our expedition this morning is Horatio Chapple. Horatio was a fine young man hoping to go on to study medicine after school. By all accounts he would have made an excellent doctor.
We and the Norwegian authorities are currently establishing the full circumstances of his tragic death and will not be releasing this until we have discussed it with the family. Again, I would ask you to respect their privacy at this extremely difficult time. Our thoughts are with them.
5th August 2011
The Chanzin Fire (group) was one of seven groups in the Svalbard area in
Norway. They were undertaking a long-term project to study glaciers
and document changes since previous expeditions as part of ongoing
scientific research into climate change.
At 7am, the group was attacked by a polar bear,
leading to the death of Horatio Chapple and the injury of four other
members of the group. After the bear was killed by one of the group
leaders, the Young Explorers provided life-saving first aid to those
injured and called for assistance. The Norwegian authorities evacuated
the group to Tromsø.
British Exploring immediately assembled its
crisis team and Executive Director Lt Gen Peter Pearson travelled to
Svalbard. British Exploring staff in London contacted families of those
affected, followed by the families of all other expedition members, to
The other six Fires (groups) in the expedition were contacted and instructed to return to the base camp.
Press Release, 5th August 2011
With great sadness, the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) confirms the tragic death this morning of one of the members of its expedition in Svalbard.
We have been in touch with the family to whom we extend our utmost sympathy. They have asked that their privacy be respected and that any enquiries are directed to BSES.
In addition to this death, four other members of the expedition have sustained injuries, two of them severe. They are being evacuated to Tromsø hospital at present. No other members of the expedition have been injured.
Once the Norwegian authorities have completed formal identification of those involved, their names will be released. In the meantime, all the families have been advised.
We continue to gather further information of this tragedy and our Executive Director, Lt Gen Peter Pearson, is en route to Svalbard. A further statement will be issued in due course.