“We’re reprioritizing our resources so that we can take care of these patients the best we can. To do so we’ve closed the orthopedic clinic to redistribute resources to the emergency instead,” Södertälje hospital spokeswoman Yvonne Hejdenberg told Swedish news agency TT.
In all, 25 people were brought to the hospital, she said, of which nine had been released by around noon.
About 100 cars were involved in the pileup on the E4 road near Södetälje, south of Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Stenberg/TT
The 'Beast from the East', the brutal Siberian winter storm that is currently sweeping over Sweden, continued to create havoc across the nation throughout the afternoon, with snow, strong gusts and icy and extremely slippery roads posing major traffic hazards. Police urged drivers to simply stay home if they could.
Aside from the pileup near Södertälje, which involved around 100 vehicles and resulted in a stretch of the E4 coming to a stand-still for hours, at least six separate car accidents were also reported Kalmar in the south, as well as in other parts of the country.
“We’ve had a number of accidents and cars skidding off the road, there are cars lying a bit everywhere,” Kenneth Emricsson, a spokesman for the Kalmar fire department, said
“I’ve worked here for 35 years, but I don’t think I’ve experienced anything so difficult before,” he said.
In southern Sweden, there were multiple reports of cars skidding off the roads. Photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT
The Kalmar region’s rescue services has called in extra staff to manage with the onslaught of accidents. Several tracked vehicles are also in preparedness mode should emergency vehicles have problems getting around.
“When there is snow smoke you can hardly see where the road is. I missed a curve when I was out on the road and ended up crashing into a snow pile. Momentarily there is zero vision,” Emricsson said.
Police, who on Wednesday morning urged drivers in especially affected areas to stay away from the roads at all, ordered the closure of the E65 road between Ystad and Malmö in the south.
The Öresund Bridge, which connects Sweden with Denmark, was briefly closed earlier in the day after a traffic accident involving a lorry.
The difficult weather conditions have also led to multiple train, bus and flight cancellations and delays in the worst affected areas.
On the eastern island of Gotland, the wind was pushing the snow in over the roads at such a speed that it was getting difficult for ploughing machines to keep the roads open at all.
Authorities have also issued avalanche warnings in some popular skiing areas, including in parts of Vindelfjällen, Jämtlandsfjällen and Härjedalsfjällen.
Malva Lindborg, a meteorologist at the national weather agency SMHI, said that while parts of the country would get virtually no snow on Wednesday – but still be subject to the cold and strong winds – other parts would get between 5-10 centimetres of snow.
She said the most intense snowfall was expected to die down during the day.