Lost plane wreck and bodies emerge after glacier melts and reveal its secrets
The extreme heat in Switzerland is melting glaciers at such a rate that wreckage from a plane crash more than 50 years ago and human remains are being discovered.
Remnants of the aircraft from 1968 were discovered in the Swiss Alps last week, while at least two skeletons have been found separately, reports say.
The plane pieces were discovered on Thursday on the Aletsch Glacier in Wallis canton, near the Jungfrau and Monch mountain peaks, police said.
‘Investigations have determined that the parts were from the wreckage of a Piper Cherokee, registration HB-OYL, which crashed at this location on June 30, 1968’, local officers explained.
‘Recovery work will be undertaken as soon as possible.’
The 24 Heures regional newspaper said that a teacher, chief medical officer and his son, who were all from Zurich, were on board and their bodies were discovered at the time.
It also reported that a mountain guide discovered the wreckage after hiking routes around the area were change to account for melting snow and ice.
Explaining why wreckage was not found with the bodies 54 years ago, police added: ‘At the time of the accident, more than 50 years ago, the technical means to recover aircraft wreckage in difficult terrain were limited.
‘Due to the melting of the glaciers, particularly in summer, it is therefore possible that other pieces or pieces of wreckage may be released from the ice.
‘In case of discovery, these elements must not be handled in order to avoid any risk of injury. They must be marked and immediately reported to the police.’
There has been speculation in the European press about whose remains may have been found.
But Swiss media suggest that the Valais police’s list of missing people in the area is some three pages long.
The Guardian reported that police are attempting to identify the individual and the skeletal remains of another frozen person were found about a week later.
The newspaper said two French mountaineers found the bones last Wednesday in Valais, on the Chessjen glacier, near an old path that stopped being used about a decade ago.
It quoted warden Dario Andenmatten, as suggested the pair likely made the grisly discovery because they were using an old map and added that the skeleton was airlifted away by helicopter the same day.
Mr Andenmatten said he expected the person to have died ‘sometime in the 1970s or 80s’.
One hiker, Luc Lechanoine, told Blick newspaper that the clothes they found were neon-colored, ‘in the style of the 80s’ and that the mummified corpse was slightly damaged but almost complete.