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Ice discovery Mummified bodies found in Swiss glacier

mummified remains of two people in glacier

The bodies were found with bottles and backpacks in the Tsanfleuron glacier.

(Glacier 3000)

The frozen, mummified remains of a Swiss couple have been found in a glacier near the Swiss ski resort of Glacier 3000. They were farmers who went missing 75 years ago, reports newspaper Le Matin.

Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin: these are the identities of the two frozen corpses found in the shrinking Tsanfleuron glacier near the border between Cantons Bern and Valais, not far from the chic Gstaad resort.

Police on Wednesday officially confirmed the information – following DNA testing carried out by Lausanne University – the daily Le Matin on Tuesday published an interview with the youngest daughter of the couple, 79-year-old Marceline Udry-Dumoulin.

“We spent our whole lives looking for them, without stopping. We thought that we could give them the funeral they deserved one day,” she said.

Her father, a shoemaker, and mother, a teacher, went on a hike to an Alp where their cows were spending the summer on August 15, 1942, but never came back. Until now: “I can say that after 75 years of waiting this news gives me a deep sense of calm,” Udry-Dumoulin said.

Valais police believe the couple had an accident while hiking to the Alp, located over the mountain pass in neighbouring canton Bern. In Switzerland, farmers keep their cows in high Alpine regions during the summer so they can graze on high-altitude meadows covered by snow the rest of the year.

mummy map

A map showing cantons Bern and Valais with the Diablerets glacier in between

Grim discovery

The black, almost charred-looking remains (see photo) were found by an employee of the ski station last week as he made what he thought was a routine inspection tour at an altitude of 2,600 metres.

“From afar, it looked like small rocks, but there were too many in the same place,” explained station resort director Bernhard Tschannen to Swiss public radio RTS.

Indeed, when the ski-lift technician got closer, he realised that this was something different: there were “backpacks, mess kits, a glass bottle, shoes.” And, of course, the bodies – a man and woman dressed in clothes from the interwar period.

It is thought that the couple may have fallen into a crevice on the Tsanfleuron glacier, where they were preserved until now, until the receding glacier gave up the bodies.

The icemen cometh

This is not the first time such a find has been made. Objects and people emerge frequently from glaciers in Switzerland and the surrounding region, especially since the ice sheets have been melting rapidly over the past few decades.

Another recent case, also in Valais, involved the discovery of four frozen corpses in the Aletsch glacier in 2012. After examination of the remains it was determined that the bodies were those of a climbing expedition involving three brothers that had gone missing in 1926.

In 2003, a Swiss hiker found complete hunting gear and leather clothing on the Schnidejoch pass, that archaeologists were able to date back to 4,500 BC. Although no human remains were found, the objects were the oldest of their kind uncovered in the Alps and indicated the existence of Neolithic trading across the mountain range.


swissinfo.ch with agencies/dos

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