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Esther Dingley: Remains of missing British hiker found in French Pyrenees

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By Euronews with AFP
Esther Dingley
Esther Dingley   -   Copyright  Credit: LBT Global
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The remains of a missing British hiker have been found in the Pyrenees, her family has confirmed.

Esther Dingley was reported missing last November while walking in the French and Spanish mountains, prompting a widespread search.

French authorities recently confirmed human bones had been found by hikers near a path in Bagnères-de-Luchon last week.

After a DNA test, Dingley's family confirmed that some of the remains belonged to her.

"We are distraught to report that we have received DNA confirmation that one of the bones found last week belongs to Esther," said her partner Daniel Colegate in a statement released by LBT Global.

"We have all known for many months that the chance we would get to hug our beloved Esther again, to feel her warm hand in ours, to see her beautiful smile and to watch the room light up again whenever she arrived was tiny, but with this confirmation that small hope has now faded. It is devastating beyond words.

"At this stage, with only one bone found and no sign of equipment or clothing in the immediate area, the details of what happened, and where it happened, remain unknown.

"Search and rescue teams intend to continue their search on foot and with drones."

Dingley, 37, had driven to hike in Spain from France at the end of October, before the second national lockdown.

After receiving no news since a WhatsApp message on 22 November 2020, her partner -- who had stayed in France -- issued an alert, prompting rescue teams in both countries to launch a search operation.

Dingley's vehicle was found in Spain, and investigators said she had planned to hike around the Pic de Sauvegarde.

On Wednesday, France confirmed that bones had recently been found by hikers on a path. A piece of human skull "bearing the remains of hair" was discovered last week "near a hiking trail at Port de la Gléré", along with bones "of animal origin," authorities said.

Dingley and her partner had reportedly been travelling around Europe in a motorhome for six years.