Esther Dingley: Human remains found in mountains are confirmed as missing Brit

Esther Dingley, 37, went missing in November last year while on a solo walk through the Pyrenees mountains on France’s border with Spain. Human remains were found on Friday

Human remains found in the Pyrenees mountains have been confirmed as British hiker Esther Dingley who had been missing for eight months.

Bones – including a skull – found close to Port de la Glere, on France’s border with Spain, on Friday were sent for DNA testing last week before the positive match was returned, said the LBT Global charity today.

They were spotted by a mountain runner on the Puerto de la Glera pass close to the 8,796ft Pico Salvaguardia summit.

Ms Dingley, 37, had been walking solo in the mountains and was last seen on November 22.

Her partner, Daniel Colegate, and mum, Ria Bryant, said they were “distraught” by the news and expressed gratitude to those involved in the gruelling and sometimes dangerous search effort.

In a joint statement they said: “We are distraught to report that we have received DNA confirmation that one of the bones found last week belongs to Esther.

“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 just a single bone found and no sign of equipment or clothing in the immediate area (which has been closely searched again over several days), the details of what happened and where still remain unknown.

Refuge de Venasque where Esther may have stayed during her hike
“The search and rescue teams intend to continue their search on foot and with drones, particularly trying to find some sign of Esther’s equipment to understand how this tragedy occurred.

“The family would like to express their gratitude to the officers in charge of the various police units in France and Spain, the British consulates in Bordeaux and Barcelona, and LBT Global, all of whom have remained in close contact with us for months now.

“Their continued support and their determination to find answers is welcome.”

Mr Colegate had recently claimed he “could no longer agree” with the idea she had suffered an accident due to how long the search had lasted.

Spanish and French police had previously both said they had found no evidence of any foul play.

Brown bears and wolves are among the creatures roaming freely in the mountain range where the remains were found and are thought to have potentially moved them onto a footpath.

e, said at the time the discovery was made in the area Ms Dingley was supposed to be in when she disappeared.

“Everything suggests that these bones were recently moved by animals,” he said. “They would not have been there a few days earlier.”

Forensics experts used DNA from 74-year-old Mrs Bryant to confirm the match.

The grieving mum had confirmed that a scan of her daughter’s teeth had been requested by the French, through the British consulate in Bordeaux.

Ms Dingley had a distinctive yellow tent, and a bright red-and-grey rucksack with her, but there is no trace of either at the site.

Commander Bordinaro had previously admitted that it was “very likely” that Durham-born Ms Dingley had been involved in a mountain accident, and had been unable to raise help.

The search for her was called off in February because of deteriorating weather, but it resumed in the spring.

In her final message to Mr Colegate on November 22, Ms Dingley wrote: “Might dip into France. Hoping Refuge Venasque has a winter room. Keep you posted when can. Love you xxx”.

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