Man survives two months in icy prison

Feb 20, 2012, 09:27 IST | Agencies

Doctors treating a Swede trapped in a snow-bound car are putting his survival down to an 'igloo-effect'

Doctors treating a Swede trapped in a snow-bound car are putting his survival down to an 'igloo-effect' 

A man has been pulled alive from a snowed-in car in the Swedish wilderness, where he is believed to have been stranded without food for at least two months.

The man was found on Friday by a passer-by in a snow-scooter near the northern town of Umea. He had been snowed into his car since December or even November.

Hunger pangs: The man stuck in the snow-covered car in the town of
Umea, Sweden had to starve for two months. Pic/AFP

"It's not possible for humans to hibernate like a bear does," Dr Ulf Segerberg, the Chief Medical Officer at Norrland University Hospital.

"If you cool the body, of course the metabolism slows down, but I don't think he would have survived if that had happened." He said that the air trapped around the man's car had probably instead formed a natural igloo.

"In the car he had very warm clothes, he had a warm sleeping bag, and as the car was snowed under, that would have made it more like an igloo, and down below the snow you would normally have a temperature of around zero," he said.

Dr Stefan Branth, a doctor at Uppsala University said that he believed the man's metabolism may have slowed down "like a bear that hibernates". "He had a girlfriend but she ran out. And then he also had problems paying bills and the rent," said a person familiar with the man.

Dr Segerberg said the greatest risk to the man's health had been starvation. "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." He estimated that the man would have lost between 15 kg and 20 kg of his body weight over the period.

The man has been moved to an ordinary ward where he is conversing with nurses. "This is a case in a lifetime," said Segerberg. "Every winter we have people who have frozen to death, but a case like this with someone caught outside for so long time, is very rare." 

The number of people who have died so far owing to the extreme cold and snow in Europe

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