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POLICE

Partner finds body of missing British hiker close to border between France and Spain

The partner of a British hiker who went missing in the French Pyrenees last November has found her body, her family said on Tuesday, adding that an accident was "the most likely hypothesis".

Partner finds body of missing British hiker close to border between France and Spain
Illustration photo: Raymond Roig/AFP

Esther Dingley, 37, had been walking on her own in the mountain range, which straddles the border between France and Spain, but had not been heard from since sending a WhatsApp message on November 22nd.

Her partner Daniel Colegate, who raised the alarm over her whereabouts, found her body on Monday following a “relentless search”, according to a family statement released by charity LBT Global.

Colegate found Dingley’s body and equipment close to where a bone was found by a mountain runner two weeks ago.

A DNA test on the bone confirmed last month that it belonged to the hiker.

“At this stage an accident is the most likely hypothesis, given the location and other early indications,” the statement said.

“A full investigation is under way to confirm the details.”

Her family said they “remain incredibly grateful for the efforts of the police units involved and their commitment to understanding the exact circumstances of Esther’s death”.

Dingley had planned to make a loop around the Salvaguardia peak, which stands at 2,738 metres above sea level, between Spain and where her vehicle was parked, according to investigators.

The BBC reported she and Colegate, who were partners for 20 years, had travelled around Europe in a camper van after leaving northeast England in 2014.

Colegate was house-sitting at a Gascony vineyard while his girlfriend took their motor home on the journey to Spain.

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POLICE

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”

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