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Sweden's icicle hotline keeps pedestrians on the hunt for the diciest ice

Falling icicles and snow banks are wintertime hazards for Swedes. A hotline to report dangerous hanging ice or snow packs has received 600 calls this winter.

Icicles hang from the branches of a bush in this 2009 file photo.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor

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With freezing temperatures, frequent snows, and prevailing darkness, the Swedish winters can be difficult to endure. The season can also turn dangerous at the drop of an icicle.

In Stockholm, a falling piece of ice knocked one passerby unconscious Wednesday morning as he turned a corner on Kungsholmen, one of several islands that make up the capital.

The man was fortunate to escape with minor injuries. Falling snow and icicles have killed unsuspecting Stockholmers in the past.

IN PICTURES: European snow storm

In fact, icicle accidents have become such an annual occurrence in Sweden that the city of Stockholm created an emergency number the public can call when they see icicles or snow banks dangling dangerously over walkways. The messages are then passed along to property owners who are legally responsible for clearing the roofs and can be fined if accidents occur.

So far this winter the hotline has fielded about 600 calls, half of which were taken after Christmas, according to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Authorities say the mild weather is to blame for the recent tumbling ice and snow. After weeks of sub-zero conditions, temperatures have settled near the freezing point, weakening the ice’s hold on roofs and overhangs.

IN PICTURES: European snow storm


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