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OFFBEAT

Swede plummets to death in balcony collapse

A man from Mariefred, central Sweden, has died after the balcony where he was standing with a friend gave way early on Sunday morning.

“A 52-year-old man has died. The woman is injured, she is being treated in hospital,” said Anette Wilhelmsson of the Södermanland county police to daily Aftonbladet.

A neighbour told the paper how the man had been standing on the balcony with a female friend, when it suddenly gave way and plummeted to the ground.

The police were unwilling to disclose any particulars to the paper regarding the fall but the neighbour said that he has been worried about the state of the balconies for a long time.

“Some of the railings aren’t even stuck to the wall and if you lean on them without knowing you can fall out,” the neighbour said to the paper.

According to the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen) the accident proves the need for new regulations of how new balconies are controlled.

“It just increases the impression that stricter rules should be put in place when it comes to checking the state of balconies,” said P-G Nyström, a union lawyer, told news agency TT.

The union was discussing the question already in 2010, when they wrote to National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) demanding recurring controls of balconies.

”This is not a new question, it has happened before that balconies collapse. It happened in Skellefteå, two-three years ago. At that point we wrote to the agency. We made a comparison to the rules that apply for lifts and ventilation, which have rules that involve recurring inspections,“ Nyström said.

However, the agency ruled that the need to inspect lifts and ventilations systems differed on many counts from that of balconies, and the suggestion was rejected.

A report has been filed and police have now started an investigation into the balcony collapse but so far no one is under suspicion for causing the man’s death and the injuries sustained by the woman.

“This is what we must investigate, if someone has neglected to do something,” said Wilhelmsson to Aftonbladet.

Residents in the building are still shocked by what has happened.

“It is terrible,” the neighbour told the paper.

TT/Rebecca Martin

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OFFBEAT

Swedish police remove sculpture mistaken for suicide victim

Police on the island of Gotland removed a public sculpture from the Galgberget nature reserve near Visby on the grounds that it is just too creepy.

Swedish police remove sculpture mistaken for suicide victim
The gallows at Galgeberget. Photo: Artifex/WikiCommons
According to local news site Hela Gotland, someone was out for a stroll on Galgeberget (the Gallows Hill) on Wednesday when they saw what they thought was a body hanging after a suicide. Local police were contacted but when they went to investigate they instead found a sculpture by artist Jessica Lundeberg. 
 
The artwork, entitled ‘The Watcher in the Woods’, is a partially transparent plate sculpture that looks like a spooky little girl. 
 
 
Despite discovering that the suspected suicide victim was actually artwork, police determined that Lundeberg’s piece could scare others and thus took the sculpture down. 
 
“It was decided that if it were to remain, more people would likely be frightened in the same way,” Gotland police spokesman Ayman Aboulaich told Radio P4 Gotland. 
 
Lundeberg told Hela Gotland that the sculpture has been at Galgeberget since a public art project last summer and that this was the first time it had caused any concern. She said ‘The Watcher in the Woods’ was the only piece that was allowed to remain after the end of the project. But now it is there no more. 
 
 
Lundeberg has taken the sculpture back to her studio. While she hopes it will eventually return to Galgeberget, the artist told Hela Gotland it seems unlikely.  
 
She said that the sculpture was damaged by police. 
 
“It was ragged, dismantled and broken. I was horrified when I saw it,” she said. 
 
Police have reportedly promised to pay any necessary repair costs.
 
Although the person who reported the sculpture to the police has not spoken with the media, their jump to conclusions could perhaps be attributed to the nature reserve’s macabre history. Galgeberget is still home to gallows that were used to hang criminals for centuries. The last execution to be held at the site was in 1845, according to Hela Gotland
 
 
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