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Austria’s Fastest Melting Glacier Gives Up Decades-Old Corpse

An alpine guide has discovered on Austria’s fastest melting glacier what are believed to be the remains of an Austrian who died more than 20 years ago, according to a statement from local police.

The discovery follows the finding of other human remains on the same glacier less than two months ago.

Climate change has accelerated the melting of glaciers, with the retreating ice releasing bodies of alpinists it has held for years, sometimes even decades.

A guide found the corpse at about 2,900 metres (9,500 feet) on the Schlatenkees glacier in Tyrol province last Friday, police said on Tuesday. A backpack was found near the corpse, containing cash, a bank card and a driving licence.

Police suspect the body is that of a 37-year-old man who died on the glacier in 2001, and said DNA results were expected within a “few weeks”.

In late June, a group of alpinists discovered human remains and parts of skis on the same glacier. The remains could prove to be decades old once identified, according to police.

“It is rather rare that human remains and an entire corpse are found on a glacier within such a short period of time,” Tyrol police spokesperson Christian Viehweider told the AFP news agency.

Schlatenkees was the Austrian glacier with the biggest recorded loss of ice at 89.5 metres during the 2021/2022 reporting period, according to the Austrian Alpine Club’s annual report.

In July, climbers on the Theodul glacier in southern Switzerland found the remains of an alpinist who had disappeared in 1986.

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