Emaciated Swede, 44, discovered after living off handfuls of snow
Had been stuck in drifts on remote road since December 19
Experts believe he may have gone into some kind of hibernation
A Swedish man has been pulled barely alive from his snow-covered car having survived on nothing but snow for two months in sub-zero temperatures.
Peter Skyllberg, 44, had eaten nothing but handfuls of snow since December 19 when his car became bogged down in drifts near the town of Umea in northern Sweden.
Pictures of the vehicle’s interior show the dashboard and seats covered in ice after temperatures plunged to -30C.
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Igloo effect: Peter Skyllberg somehow survived inside this icebound car for two months by eating handfuls of snow as temperatures plunged as low as -30C
Baltic conditions: This picture shows just how much ice had built up inside the vehicle. Mr Skyllberg also appears to have had food and drink supplies, albeit limited ones
Frozen in: The Swede’s car was found covered in 2ft of snow after getting trapped in drifts on December 19
Trapped: Mr Skyllberg was eventually discovered near the town of Umea on the north-east coast of Sweden
Experts think he went into a kind of human hibernation which slowed down his metabolism and pulled him through the ordeal in what they have described as the ‘case of a lifetime’.
Mr Skyllberg had driven off the main road on to forest tracks where his car became stuck fast
On Friday a passing man on a snowmobile stopped to scrape snow from the windscreen of the vehicle and saw movement inside.
As he recovered in a hospital today details emerged of depression and debts piling up on him and it is thought he might have been trying to take his own life.
Police initially thought he was a nature lover who had become trapped in the snow while on an expedition to photograph elk.
But now it emerges there was a court judgment against him in December because of debts totaling £150,000.
Neighbours of his in the town of Orebro in central Sweden said he had also broken up with his girlfriend and had lost contact with his father and other family members 20 years ago.
‘We now have to wait until he is better to try to find out what really was in his mind,’ said police officer Ebbe Nyberg.
Mr Skyllberg survived by taking handfuls of snow from the roof of the car.
The only other things found with him were cigarettes and comic books.
Some protection: Mr Skyllberg did at least have warm clothes and a sleeping bag with him (left) in his car
‘Absolutely incredible that he is alive, in part considering that he hasn’t had any food, but also bearing in mind that it was really cold for a while there after Christmas,’ said a member of the emergency services team deployed to rescue him.
MIRACLE SURVIVAL: IGLOO EFFECT OR BEAR-LIKE HIBERNATION?
The case of Peter Skyllberg is so extraordinary doctors and medical experts are still trying to establish exactly how the 44-year-old survived in such extreme circumstances.
One theory being put forward by Dr Stefan Branth, from Uppsala University, is that Mr Skyllberg’s metabolism may have slowed down ‘like a bear that hibernates’, making it easier to go without food.
But Ulf Segerberg, the chief medical officer at Umea University Hospital, said it was more likely because of the insulation provided by his vehicle.
‘It is not possible for humans to hibernate like a bear,’ he said.
‘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.
He was emaciated, barely able to move and could barely speak.
‘He was at the end of his tether,’ said a police spokesman. ‘It was doubtful he could have survived one or two more days.’
He was wrapped up in a sleeping bag in the car but he had no other warmth; the fuel had run out long ago as he kept the heater running to try to survive as the thermometer plunged on some nights to -30C.
Pictures also show food wrappers and drink cartons , which suggests he may have had supplies with him for at least some of the time.
Mr Skyllberg is recovering in the intensive care ward at Umea University Hospital where he is being fed liquid proteins.
He has hypothermia and is severely malnourished. He was never registered as missing, for which there is currently no explanation.
Policeman Nyberg added: ‘He was in a very poor state when we found him.
He could not speak, just a few broken sentences and the words snow…eat. And he managed to say he hadn’t eaten anything since December.’