The Town 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.

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



The Great Influenza: T…
John M. Barry
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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…

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