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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Body of skier believed to have died 22 years ago found on glacier in the Austrian Alps

A mountain guide has found the remains high in the Austrian Alps of a man believed to have died in an accident on a glacier 22 years ago, police said Tuesday.

The body was found on Friday on the Schlatenkees glacier in the Hohe Tauern national park in eastern Tyrol province, near the Italian border and at an altitude of about 2,900 meters (9,515 feet), police said in a statement. The remains had clearly been there for some time, they added.

The guide alerted police in Lienz, who recovered the body with the help of a helicopter.

A few meters below the body, rescuers found a backpack containing cash, a bank card and a driving license. Police determined that the remains appear to be those of an Austrian man who was 37 at the time and is believed to have died in 2001. The man had cross-country skiing equipment.

A DNA comparison is being carried out to confirm the man’s identity. The result is expected in a few weeks.

In late June, a group of alpinists discovered human remains and parts of skis on the same glacier. The remains have not been identified as yet, but could be decades old, according to police.

“It is rather rare that human remains and an entire corpse are found on a glacier within such a short period of time,” Tyrol police spokesman Christian Viehweider told AFP.

Schlatenkees was the Austrian glacier with the biggest recorded loss of 89.5 metres during the 2021/2022 reporting period, according to the Austrian Alpine Club’s annual report.

As glaciers increasingly melt and recede, which many scientists blame on global warming, there has been an increase in discoveries of the remains of hikers, skiers and other Alpinists who went missing decades ago.

The Schlatenkees glacier itself was the scene of one such previous find. Bones found there in 2011 were believed to be those of a local man who had missing since 1957.

In neighboring Switzerland, police said last month that DNA tests confirmed that a body found on a glacier near the Matterhorn was that of a German mountaineer who disappeared in 1986. Police did not identify the climber butpublished a photoof a hiking boot and gear sticking out of the snow that apparently belonged to the missing man.

In August 2017, Italian mountain rescue crews recovered theremains of hikers on a glacieron Mont Blanc’s southern face likely dating from the 1980s or 1990s.

The month before that, a shrinking glacier in Switzerland revealed the bodies of a frozen couple whowent missing in 1942.

In 2015, the remains of two Japanese climbers who went missing in 1970 on the Matterhorn were found and their identities were confirmed through the DNA testing, Reuters reported.

AFP contributed to this report.

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