Glacier bodies identified: ‘We spent our whole lives searching for them’

UPDATED: The two bodies uncovered on a Swiss glacier last week have been formally identified as a married couple from Chandolin who disappeared in 1942.

Glacier bodies identified: 'We spent our whole lives searching for them'
The couple were found in the Diablerets area. Photo: AFP Photo/Glacier 3,000
The bodies were found lying near each other in the Diablerets massif in the Vaud Alps last Thursday, along with backpacks, a bottle, a book and a watch, according to Le Matin.
On Wednesday Valais police said DNA tests had established that the pair were married couple Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, who went missing on August 15th, 1942.
Marcelin Dumoulin, a 40-year-old shoemaker at the time, and his wife Francine, a schoolteacher aged 37, had left their village of Chandolin in Valais canton on foot before disappearing, orphaning five sons and two daughters.
Their daughter, Monique Dumoulin, told AFP it was the first time her mother had joined her father for that type of excursion. She had previously always stayed home, either because she was pregnant, or to look after her young children.
The couple had been hoping to make an overnight trip to check up on their cattle, which were being kept in Grilden, an alpine pasture in neighbouring Bern canton.
Monique Dumoulin said that the sky had been clear when her parents set out, but that clouds later darkened the area, likely making it difficult to ensure solid footing on the glacier's surface.
“My uncle had time to see my parents one last time with his binoculars”, she said in a phone interview.
The site where the couple were found. Photo: Valais police  
Family gets closure
Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, who was four the day her parents went missing, told Le Matin that she climbed the glacier three times after their disappearance, “constantly wondering what had happened to them.”
The search was called off after several weeks and the Dumoulin children — aged two to 13 at the time — were sent to live with relatives and in foster homes.
“We spent our whole lives searching for them, without stopping. We never thought we'd be able to give them the funeral they deserved,” Udry-Dumoulin told Le Matin.
Granddaughter Maryline said that aside from the DNA tests, her grandfather's distinctive watch and backpack, which he made himself, could help identify the bodies.
She said her two aunts — her grandparents' only surviving children — were “happy they will finally be able to mourn.”
The couple's clothing and items found with them helped with the identification. Photo: Valais police 


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”.