Swedish hospital staff have accused the British paparazzi of behaving "outrageously" in their hunt for an exclusive photograph of a 44-year-old man who survived weeks of sub-zero temperatures without food in his snowbound car.
Peter Skyllberg – dubbed the "snow-man" by the British media – was found severely emaciated and huddled in a sleeping bag in his Cherokee Jeep, which had been buried under snow on a forest track outside the northern Swedish town of Umea last Friday. He told rescue workers he had survived for nearly two months on snow alone.
His extraordinary survival in temperatures as low as -30C has received huge media interest. Yesterday it was claimed British press photographers were reported to be staking out the Norrland University hospital in Umea where he is making a slow recovery in the hope of getting an exclusive photograph of him.
Hospital staff said photographers had been walking along corridors and randomly pushing open doors of patients in the hope of finding Mr Skyllberg.
Dr Ulf Segerberg, chief medical officer at the hospital, said: "I can confirm there have been journalists in the common rooms and the corridors of our hospital – places where they shouldn't be.
"Staff members on the wards are outraged this has happened. This behaviour is inappropriate."
Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper claimed an "elderly" British photographer was at the hospital on Wednesday. It said he had been seen walking along corridors opening doors to try to get the first "snow-man" picture. Doctors allegedly asked him to leave but he refused. Staff threatened to call the police, and were then forced to chase him away.
Neither hospital staff or Aftonbladet knew which media organisation the photographers worked for.
Dr Ulf Segerberg continued: "Sweden's health system has a strong history and tradition of confidentiality, so we are often irritated when journalists step over the line."
Mr Skyllberg was discovered in his Jeep by a group of snow mobile drivers. They had assumed the car had been dumped and were astonished when they spotted an emaciated figure huddled up on the back seat, through the vehicle's frost caked windows. Mr Skyllberg later told hospital staff he had survived mainly on snow.
Survival experts believe his snow covered car functioned like an igloo and kept temperatures inside at around zero. They estimate the maximum amount of time a person can survive without food is around 60 days. Mr Skyllberg had been in his car for 61 days before he was found – he claims he became trapped inside on 19 December.