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Police searching for missing British hiker Esther Dingley find bones near site of last contact

Police are analysing bones found near the spot where missing hiker Esther Dingley went missing late last year.

A mountain runner raised the alarm around 2pm on Friday after discovering what he believed could be the remains of a body.

Spanish police went to the area but had to alert their French counterparts after discovering the spot was just over the border.

French police have now taken charge of the investigation to try to confirm they are human bones and if they are, who they could belong to. 

Spanish police sources said they appeared to be human bones.

Police are analysing bones found near the spot where missing hiker Esther Dingley went missing late last year

British hiker Esther Dingley  (pictured with her boyfriend Daniel Colegate) went missing November 22

British hiker Esther Dingley  (pictured with her boyfriend Daniel Colegate) went missing November 22 

A mountain runner raised the alarm around 2pm on Friday after discovering what he believed could be the remains of a body near the spot where missing hiker Esther Dingley went missing late last year.

A mountain runner raised the alarm around 2pm on Friday after discovering what he believed could be the remains of a body near the spot where missing hiker Esther Dingley went missing late last year.

A Civil Guard source said: ‘A mountain runner has found what could be human bones just over the French side of the border at Puerto de la Glera.

‘He called the Civil Guard who went to the area but after confirming it was on the French side of the border they called the French Gendarmerie who went to the spot and have now taken charge of things.

‘They appear to be human remains but it will up to French police now to analyse them.’

Another Spanish source said it appeared ’90 per cent certain’ they were human remains.

Puerto de la Glera – Port de la Glere in France – is close to the 8,796ft Pico Salvaguardia summit where Oxford graduate Esther last made contact with her partner Dan Colegate around 4pm on November 22 last year.

Specialist officers from Spain and France have carried out several searches of the area around the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail.

Esther’s partner claimed in a recent BBC interview he ‘could no longer agree’ with the idea she had suffered an accident.

He said: ‘The search has been so prolonged and so intense, that as far as I’m concerned the probability of an accident is now less than the probability of a criminal act.’

Spanish Civil Guard officers resumed the search for Esther in mid-June and have been supported by a helicopter from a permanent base in the town of Benasque, where the missing hiker was staying before she vanished. 

A Spanish court probe that opened after the Durham-born 37-year-old went missing on November 22 remains open.

Specialist officers from Spain and France have carried out several searches of the area around the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail, where Esther was hiking before she went missing

 Specialist officers from Spain and France have carried out several searches of the area around the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail, where Esther was hiking before she went missing

Esther's partner claimed in a recent BBC interview he 'could no longer agree' with the idea she had suffered an accident

Esther’s partner claimed in a recent BBC interview he ‘could no longer agree’ with the idea she had suffered an accident

Sergeant Jorge Lopez Ramos, whose elite mountain search and rescue team led the eight-day search for Esther last year before it was halted because of the bad weather, said as the search resumed: ‘We have spent some time going into the mountains and seeing what the snow is like and looking at places where we think Esther could have had an accident.

‘A helicopter has been assisting officers on the ground but we haven’t found anything.

‘The south face of the Pico Salvaguardia can now be hiked to the summit without any problem.

‘That’s one of the places we’ve looked because that’s where we know Esther made her last contact with her boyfriend and we haven’t found any clues that help us get any closer to finding her. 

He added: ‘The summer is the most likely time of the year when we’ll get information that could help us because that’s when most people are walking in the mountains.

‘At the end of the day 1,000 eyes see more than eight, the summer is when more people leave the well-trodden paths for whatever reason and we’ve got a good chance of seeing some change to a situation which at the moment is the same as it was last year when the search was called off.

‘The number of hikers in the area starts to increase towards the end of June but July and August are the two months when there is most people.’   

Missing Esther Dingley's camper van was spotted parked up in Benasque . Witness Lucie was walking her dog Tipo when she spotted the camper van with the light on and someone inside on December 2

Missing Esther Dingley’s camper van was spotted parked up in Benasque . Witness Lucie was walking her dog Tipo when she spotted the camper van with the light on and someone inside on December 2 

British hiker Esther Dingley was seen at Eroski supermartket in Benasque, Spain, on Novermber 19, days before her sudden disappearance

British hiker Esther Dingley was seen at Eroski supermartket in Benasque, Spain, on Novermber 19, days before her sudden disappearance

A woman judge based an hour’s drive away from the Pyrenees village of Benasque in Boltana remains in charge of the Spanish judicial probe sparked by Esther’s disappearance.

Maria Saenz Martinez has yet to approve the return of the camper van Esther had travelled to Spain in to her boyfriend.

The vehicle remains at a Civil Guard station in Benasque where it was taken for forensic analysis soon after Esther vanished.

French investigators have made their own inquiries and share information with their Spanish counterparts on a regular basis but are understood to have obtained no new indications about what might have happened to the missing Brit since the suspension of the mountain search.

Esther was expected to spend the night in an unmanned shelter on the French side of the border the day of her last conversation with her boyfriend but it is not known if she ever arrived.

They spoke after she reached the summit of Pico Salvaguardia, which the French call Pic de Sauvegarde, for the second time in two days.

She was seen by several witnesses including an Olympic Spanish skier asking for some fruit hiking on the path leading up to the summit.

Esther’s mum admitted in February: ‘Each day has been nothing short of an excruciating hell for me, balancing on the edge of breaking down.

‘Not knowing where she is or what has happened to our beautiful Esther is destroying me and our family.’


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