Bodies of couple dead for 70 years found on Swiss glacier

Human remains thought to date back to before World War Two were discovered preserved in the ice at Glacier 3,000 last week.

Bodies of couple dead for 70 years found on Swiss glacier
Photo: Glacier 3,000
The mummified bodies of a man and a woman were found by an employee of the ski resort on the Tsanfleuron glacier near to the Dôme ski lift last Thursday, Le Matin reported on Monday. 
Speaking to the paper, Bernhard Tschannen, director of Glacier 3,000, said the bodies were found next to each other and had been well preserved by the ice.
“The mummified bodies were of a man and a woman wearing clothes dating from the pre-war period,” he said. 
“Everything leads us to think they were trying to get to canton Bern on foot, as people did at the time. It’s the shortest route.”
The Tsanfleuron glacier lies on the cantonal border between Vaud, Valais and Bern .
Specialists attended the scene, and the bodies and a number of objects found with them – a book, a backpack, a watch – were taken to a Lausanne medical institute for analysis, Valais police said in a statement. 
The formal identification of the bodies will take several days and will involve DNA analysis and comparison with missing persons records from the time, police told news agency ATS.
Though their identity remains unconfirmed, on Tuesday morning Le Matin said it was possible the bodies are that of a shoemaker and his teacher wife from Saviese in the Valais who failed to return from a trip to the alpine pastures in 1942.
As Swiss glaciers continue to recede, discoveries of this type happen from time to time. 
In 2012 the remains of three brothers who disappeared in 1926 were found on the Aletsch glacier in the Valais.
Information found at the scene was compared with missing person records, before DNA analysis with their family members revealed a match.
In 2015 the bodies of two young Japanese climbers who disappeared in 1970 were found at the foot of the Matterhorn glacier, also in the Valais.
And last year the remains of a 36-year-old German skier who went missing in 1963 were uncovered at the Morteratsch glacier in the Graubünden.


Art project shows the scope of Switzerland’s extraordinary glacier loss

An art project has shed light on the sheer scope of Switzerland’s glacier loss in recent years due to climate change.

Art project shows the scope of Switzerland’s extraordinary glacier loss
Photo: Studio Oefner/ETH Zurich

The project looks to “visualise 140 years of glacial retreat through an interactive network”. 

READ: Swiss glaciers shrink ten percent in five years 

The project is led by Swiss artist Fabian Oefner, who has reproduced the receding glaciers using neon lines which contrast with images of the glaciers as they currently stand. 

In a collaboration with with Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and Google mapped the shrinking glaciers over time. 

READ: Swiss 'glacier initiative' collects 120,000 signatures 

“Im interested in the concept of time and how change shapes the way we see reality”, Oefner says. 

Using drones equipped with LEDs, Oefner used real representations of glacial loss as the frame for the project. 

“I looked at maps where you could see the glacier in its current state and dozens of lines drawn on the map in front of it. Each of these lines represented where the glacier was in the past few decades,” Oefner said. 

“I wanted to find a way to transport the scientific data and bring it into reality”.