March 7 2021
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Swedish man survives two months in snow-buried car

STOCKHOLM — A Swedish man was being treated in hospital Sunday after being dug out alive from his snow-buried car in which he had survived for two months with no food, according to police and local media.

The 45-year-old from southern Sweden was found on Friday, emaciated and too weak to utter more than a few words. The BBC reported the temperature in the area had recently dropped to -22F (-30C). He was found not far from the city of Umea in the north of Sweden by snowmobilers who thought they had come across a car wreck until they dug their way to a window and saw movement inside. The man, who was lying in the back seat in a sleeping bag, said he had been in the car since December 19. "Just incredible that he's alive considering that he had no food, but also since it's been really cold for some time after Christmas," a rescue team member told regional daily Vasterbottens-Kuriren, which broke the news.

Ebbe Nyberg, duty officer at the Umea police, said police saw no reason to doubt that the man had been stuck in the car for a very long time. "We would not make something like this up. The rescue services were on site too and saw the same as us," he told Vasterbottens-Kuriren. Umea University Hospital, where the man is recovering after being rescued by police and a rescue team, said in a statement he was doing well considering the circumstances. Doctors at the hospital said humans would normally be able to survive for about four weeks without food. Besides eating snow, the man probably survived by going into a dormant-like state, physician Stefan Branth told Vasterbottens-Kuriren.

"A bit like a bear that hibernates. Humans can do that," he said. "He probably had a body temperature of around 31 degrees (Celsius) which the body adjusted to. Due to the low temperature, not much energy was used up." Dr. Tyeese Gaines, emergency medicine physician at Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, N.J., and health editor at, agreed that severe hypothermia can decrease metabolism and decrease the amount of calories, which may have helped him survive. She also noted that if he was well-nourished and even a little heavy when he became trapped, he would have had more fat stores to draw from.

Also, when the body is starved of calories, the metabolism slow down as a reflex, she said. "There are not many scientific studies looking at how long a person can go, but there are anecdotal examples of religious figures fasting with water alone, and lasting for well over a month. I have not seen any reports quite as long as this gentlemen's." Why the man ended up under the snow in the forest remains unknown, police said.

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