How did a man buried in this frozen car for two months come out of it alive?

Astonishing tale of survival from Sweden as 44-year-old endures temperature of -30C with only ice to sustain him

Swedish doctors and survival experts 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 inside the vehicle 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 260km north of Stockholm in Sweden's frozen north, where temperatures hit -30C.

After brushing off a 2ft-thick crust of snow covering the vehicle, they were shocked to see a man curled up in a ball on the back seat, wrapped in a sleeping bag. Photographs of the inside of the car published yesterday showed the dashboard and driving seat coated with frost and ice.

Ebbe Nyberg, one of a team of policemen 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."

Police said they believed his account.

An ambulance was called to the scene. Looking weak, pale, emaciated and scarcely able to speak, Mr Skyllberg was taken out of the back of the car and transported to the Noorland University hospital in Umea. He told astounded doctors that he had been snowed up inside the car since 19 December. Their patient was reported to be making a slow, but steady, recovery yesterday. Doctors said a healthy person who was sufficiently warm would normally expect to survive without food for a maximum of four weeks.

"But this is the case of a lifetime," Dr Ulf Segerberg, chief medical officer at Noorland hospital, said.

"Starvation for one month, anyone can tolerate that if they have water to drink. If you have body fat, you will survive even longer, although you end up looking like someone coming from a concentration camp."

Photographs from inside the vehicle appeared to show food and drinks wrappers, indicating he may have had some supplies in the car.

Dr Segerberg estimated Mr Skyllberg had lost between 15 and 20kg during his ordeal. Police and medical authorities offered different explanations for his survival. Dr Segerberg said he believed the snow covering the car had acted like an igloo and had kept the inside temperature sufficiently warm. However, Dr Stefan Branth, a doctor an Uppsala University, said he believed his metabolism may slowed down "like a bear that hibernates".

There was no immediate explanation as to why Mr Skyllberg's disappearance hadn't been reported by friends or relatives.

Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper said that Mr Skyllberg had been struggling to pay off debts of about 1.6m Krona (£150,000) and a court had ruled that his rented home should be confiscated.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering