In the town of Longyearbyen, Norway, death is not allowed. If you’re sick or dying, they send you to the mainland, and, if you do happen to die in town, no one will bury you.
The town has had this policy in place for nearly 80 years, and the cemetery has been closed since 1918.
Temperatures in Longyearbyen drop below -50˚ Fahrenheit, and the permafrost is thick. After burying bodies at the turn of the century, townspeople soon realized that the bodies simply weren’t decomposing. Bodies in the cemetery were so well preserved, that scientists found living traces of the Spanish flu pandemic still alive in Longyearbyen’s cemetery.
The Spanish flu was thought to have been eradicated shortly after World War I and is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 80 million people.
When scientists refer to the “100-year superbug”, the Spanish flu was the most recent one. Since the flu burned itself out before modern medicine could study it, however, treatment for the disease is still unknown. The samples recovered from Longyearbyen graves have actually given scientists a new opportunity to find ways to fight the disease.
The Arctic town was completely unaware of the disease still sitting in their cemetery for close to 100 years. This led them to double-down on their no-death policy.
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