Kyrgyzstan starts hunt for Santa

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan launched a contest to track down Father Christmas somewhere inside the mountainous Central Asian state – a week after Swedish experts reported that he must be there.

“The state tourism agency always knew that Father Christmas lived here and finally Swedish scientists have proved it,” Akbar Dzhigitov, an official from the Kyrgyz tourism board, told journalists in the capital Bishkek.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us since Kyrgyzstan really wants to be recognised as the true home of Father Christmas,” better known in predominantly Sunni Muslim Kyrgyzstan as “Grandfather Frost,” Dzhigitov said.

The contest runs until December 20 and the winner will receive a reward, but the hunt could prove tough because of the former Soviet republic’s imposing mountain ranges.

Swedish engineering consultancy Sweco announced last week that Father Christmas would have to be based in Kyrgyzstan to visit all of the world’s 2.5 billion children in time.

And that was even if his sleigh travelled at 5,800 kilometres (3,604 miles) per second.

They ruled out the North Pole, where he is traditionally thought to be based, as being impractical for logistical reasons.

Father Christmas and his faithful team of reindeer would not be able to make his round-the-world trip from there in time.

But if Santa left from Kyrgyzstan and travelled against the Earth’s rotation he would have 48 hours to deliver all the presents, the consultancy said.

Another report circulating on the Internet has been less helpful however.

It suggested that Santa’s sleigh, weighed down with presents and travelling at supersonic speed, would encounter such massive air resistance that the entire contraption would burst into flames and be vaporised within 4.26 thousandths of a second.