Pictures from inside the car of Peter Skyllberg, the Swedish man who survived in his snow-covered car on nothing but snow for two months in sub-zero temperatures, have been emerged to press.
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.
The images show the dashboard and seats covered in ice after temperatures plunged to -30C.
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”.
Peter 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 Peter Skyllberg 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 the man 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 $235,000.
The images from inside Peter Skyllberg’s car show the dashboard and seats covered in ice after temperatures plunged to -30C
Peter Skyllberg’s neighbors 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.
Peter 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.
“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.
Peter Skyllberg 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.”
Peter Skyllberg was found wrapped up in a sleeping bag in the car and he had no other warmth
Peter Skyllberg 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.
Peter 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 Ebbe 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.”
The miracle survival of Peter Skyllberg: 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 Peter 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.”
Black Sea is frozen near the Romanian coastline and villagers in Serbia and Bosnia were airlifted from their homes after being cut off without food, after the dramatic icy weather hit Europe.
The cold weather in Central and Eastern Europe has caused traffic chaos, power outages and even deaths all over the planet as people battle frostbite and hypothermia.
Meanwhile in Italy, snow fell in Rome today for the first time in 26 years as freezing temperatures took the death toll across Europe to more than 150.
Rome is usually blessed by a moderate climate but the snowfall prompted authorities stop visitors from entering the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome’s ancient emperors.
The last substantial snowfalls in Rome were in 1985 and 1986, though there have been other cases of lighter snow since then, including in 2010.
The director of the Colosseum, Rossella Rea, said the sites were closed out of fears that visitors could slip on ice.
Snow began falling in the late morning Friday, leaving a light dusting on trees and cars and forming slush on the roads. It wasn’t clear if there would be any significant accumulation on the ground.
But the most dramatic situation is in Ukraine, where 101 people have now died as a result of freezing weather in the country since last Friday, the government has announced in Kiev.
Most of the 101 who died were homeless people and 64 of them were found dead on the streets, the emergencies ministry said.
Hundreds of others have been treated in hospital for frostbite, hypothermia and other cold-related conditions.
Temperatures plunged to below -35C in parts of Eastern Europe this week.
At least eight more deaths were reported in Poland on Thursday, bringing the death toll there since last week to 37.
Black Sea is frozen near the Romanian coastline
Cold weather deaths have been reported across Eastern and Central Europe:
• Russia recorded 64 cold weather deaths for the whole of January, Interfax news agency reports, but it is unclear if this is related directly to the hard frosts which began last week
• In Serbia at least 11,000 villagers have been trapped by heavy snow and blizzards in mountainous areas, the Associated Press reports
• In Italy, weather experts said it was the coldest week for 27 years.
• In Romania, 24 people have died because of cold weather during last days.
In Ukraine, more freezing weather was forecast for Friday, with overnight temperatures set to fall to as low as -32C in the north and west.
The authorities closed schools and colleges and set up nearly 3,000 heating and food shelters across the country.
Health officials instructed hospitals not to discharge homeless patients, even after treatment, in order to save them from the cold.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced that the country had burnt 1 billion cu m of gas in just three days.
The country’s gas order from Russia for the whole of 2012 is 27 billion cu m.
“It’s a very hard time for the country,” he said, promising that the difficulties would be overcome.
The Russian gas supplier, Gazprom, said Ukraine was exceeding the level of gas consumption envisaged in the contract.
Most Russian gas exports to EU countries transit Ukraine. On Thursday Austria’s energy firm OMV reported a 30% drop in its supply of Russian gas, while Italy’s gas distributor Snam Rete Gas said its Russian gas was down by about 20%.
In the winter of 2009 Russia accused Ukraine of siphoning off gas meant for European customers. Gazprom cut supplies, leaving more than a dozen countries short of Russian gas.
Some, like Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, are almost completely dependent on supplies via Ukraine and so were left with major shortages, during a very cold spell in Europe.
Ukraine’s Emergencies Minister Viktor Baloga has advised the public to take more exercise as a remedy against the cold.
“You need to get up in the morning, take active exercise and work,” he was quoted by Ukrainskaya Pravda as telling reporters on Wednesday.
“It hasn’t killed anyone yet and only makes a person fitter.”
His personal advice to keep warm, he added, was to “run 8-10km [5-6 miles] every morning and bathe in cold water, all year round”.