Swedish doctors were calling it the "case of a lifetime" yesterday after an emaciated and near-speechless 44-year-old man was dragged from an icebound car, claiming he had been snowed up inside for two months.
The man, identified as Peter Skyllberg, was discovered on Friday by a group of snowmobile drivers. They spotted his snow-covered car parked at the end of a track in a forest near the town of Umea, about 350 miles north of Stockholm, where temperatures hit minus 30C.
After brushing off two feet of snow covering the vehicle, they were shocked to see a man curled up on the back seat, wrapped in a sleeping bag.
Ebbe Nyberg, a policeman called to the scene, said: "He was in a very poor state. He said he had been there for a very long time and survived on a little snow."
Weak, pale, emaciated and scarcely able to speak, Mr Skyllberg was prised out of the back of the car and taken by ambulance to the Norrland University hospital in Umea. He told astounded doctors that he had been snowed up since 19 December. Police said they believed his account. The patient was reported to be making a slow but steady recovery yesterday.
Doctors said a healthy person who was sufficiently warm could normally expect to survive without food for about four weeks. "This is the case of a lifetime," said Dr Ulf Segerberg, chief medical officer at the hospital. "Starvation for one month, anyone can tolerate that if they have water to drink," he said. "If you have body fat, you will survive even longer, although you end up looking like someone from a concentration camp."
Dr Segerberg estimated Mr Skyllberg had lost between 15 and 20 kilograms of body weight during his ordeal. He said the snow covering the car may have acted like an igloo and had kept the inside sufficiently warm.
There was no immediate explanation as to why Mr Skyllberg's disappearance hadn't been reported by friends or relatives.