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The report on the Slovak man who urinated his way out of an avalanche with the aid of 60 half-litre bottles of beer has been debunked by the ever-vigilant snopes.com.

To recap, we noted with some delight that "Richard Kral was off on holiday when the snow swallowed his Audi in the Tatra mountains. Initially, he tried to dig his way out via the car's window, but soon realised that the snow would fill the vehicle long before he could break free." He susequently used his handy supplies of ale to generate sufficient hot liquid to melt his way to freedom.

Or rather, he did not. Snopes explains:

The story about a Slovak man who was buried inside his car by an avalanche, and supposedly freed himself by drinking beer and urinating on the snow to melt it, was carried by a number of western news services in January 2005. The story has so far proved difficult to verify because its attributions have been vague (e.g., "correspondents in Bratislava"), and it evidently originated in a part of the world (the Slovak Republic) where information sources are more difficult to track down (particularly because the language is unfamiliar to most westerners).

However, a correspondent who works for a Slovak news agency informed us that not only has the avalanche story (or any news story about an avalanche) not appeared in the news media there, but the very same tale (of Czech origin, told about an unnamed man caught in the Austrian Alps) was circulating in that country as an e-mail joke even before the heavy snows described in the article occurred.

This comes as a crushing blow to those of us who were about to use the heroic tale as proof that the safety-concious driver always carries at least 30 litres of beer, and allows him or herself the occasional sip as part of the latest, scientifically-proven cancer-busting programme. Distraught readers can rest assured that we will provide proof that beer increases male potency and eliminates world hunger just as soon we have consoled ourselves with a few pints. ®

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