Swede's miraculous survival 'theoretically possible'

Experts say the Swede's 60 day ordeal trapped in this car is theoretically possible. Photo / AFP
Experts say the Swede's 60 day ordeal trapped in this car is theoretically possible. Photo / AFP

A Swede pulled from a snowed-in car claiming he had not eaten for two months had lived in the vehicle since mid-2011, media reported, as experts said the "miraculous survival" was theoretically possible.

The emaciated 44-year-old man, whose name has not been disclosed, was pulled from a totally snow-covered car parked deep in the woods near the northern Swedish town of Umeaa last Friday.

He claimed he had not had access to food since December 19 and had survived on snow, according to local police.

Starving and barely able to move or speak, the man himself, who has been hospitalised, has so far shed little light on the mystery of how and when he got into the unlikely situation.

Police have only been able to say he must have been in the isolated spot since before the autumn snow-fall, as there were no tracks to or from the car.

A shopkeeper in the nearby village of Saevar meanwhile told Monday's Aftonbladet newspaper that the man had come into his small petrol station and grocery store starting in the northern summer.

"He drove here in the car. Sometimes he filled the tank, sometimes he bought sausages and coffee," Andreas Oestensson told the paper's online edition, adding: "He said he was living in the woods and was sleeping in a tent and sometimes the car."

He said the man, who is from the central Swedish town of Oerebro, had told him he had worked as a carpenter but had lost his job.

The paper also quoted an unnamed person who knew him saying he had just taken off last May with debt collectors on his heels and had not been heard from since.

While the claim he had survived for a full 60 days with no food and in temperatures down to minus 30C has drawn scepticism, experts say it is theoretically possible.

Tommy Cederholm, a professor of clinical nutrition at Uppsala University, pointed out to Aftonbladet that 60 days is considered the maximum period a human can survive without food, if water is available.

He pointed to the case of Bobby Sands, a political prisoner in Northern Ireland who died in 1981 after 66 days on hunger strike.

"Surviving more than 60 days is unlikely, but cold temperatures can mean the metabolism and energy use decline," he said.

- AFP

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