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Melting glaciers in Swiss Alps could reveal hundreds of mummified corpses


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Swiss police say hundreds of bodies of mountaineers who have gone missing in the Alps in the past century could emerge in coming years as global warming forces the country’s glaciers to retreat. Alpine authorities have registered a significant increase in the number of human remains discovered last month, with the body of a man missing for 30 years the most recent to be uncovered. Rescue teams in Saas Valley in the Valais canton were called last Tuesday after two climbers retreating from an aborted ascent spotted a hand and two shoes protruding from the Hohlaub glacier. Rescuers spent two hours freeing the mummified body with icepicks and their bare hands, also recovering a silver wristwatch and a ring. A helicopter flew the remains to Bern, where forensics experts matched the DNA to that of a German citizen, born in 1943, who had gone missing on a hike in 11 August 1987. One rescue worker said the man had worn shoes “unsuitable” for walking on ice, suggesting he may have slipped after walking a few metres onto the glacier and fallen down a crevice. Both feet had become detached from the body, indicating the force of the fall. The discovery comes less than a week after the bodies of a Swiss couple, missing for 75 years, were found in the Tsanfleuron glacier in the same canton. Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin had disappeared after going out to milk their cows in a meadow above Chandolin on 15 August 1942. Last Thursday, the remains of a person believed to have been killed in an Air India crash more than 50 years ago was also discovered in the French Alps, on Mount Blanc. Switzerland’s glaciers have been melting at an unprecedented rate, losing almost one cubic km in ice volume or about 900 bn litres of water over the past year. According to an investigation by Tagesanzeiger newspaper, eight of the 10 months in which the glaciers have lost the most in volume over the past century have been since 2008. Since 1850, when glaciers covered 1,735 sq km (670 sq miles) of Swiss land, the total area has shrunk by a half, to about 890 sq km. Police in Valais expect the bodies of many more missing persons to emerge because of global warming. “It’s quite clear,” a spokesman, Christian Zuber, told the Guardian. “The glaciers are retreating, so it’s logical that we’re finding more and more bodies and body parts. In the coming years we expect that many more cases of missing persons will be resolved.”

Read More: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/04/melting-glaciers-swiss-alps-could-reveal-hundreds-mummified-corpses

Posted by on Aug 5 2017. Filed under Climate change. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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