Remains of two Japanese climbers found in Alps after half century

GENEVA - The remains of two Japanese climbers who disappeared in the Swiss Alps in 1970 have been found after emerging from melting ice, police said Thursday.

Human skeletal remains were discovered at the foot of the Matterhorn glacier, at an altitude of 2,800 metres (9,190 feet), last September, and DNA tests have recently shown them to belong to two climbers who vanished 45 years ago, the Valais regional police said in a statement.

The two climbers, identified by the Japanese consulate in Geneva as 22-year-old Michio Oikawa and 21-year-old Masayuki Kobayashi, were reported missing on August 18, 1970, it said.

The consulate had assisted in tracking down family members of the two climbers in Japan to help compare their DNA profiles.

The first victim had been officially identified on June 11 and the second on July 20, police said, adding that it has a database of all missing climbers in the mountainous Swiss canton of Valais stretching back to 1925.

As Alpine glaciers melt due to global warming, the remains of long-lost climbers have increasingly been emerging from the shrinking mountain ice.

Last year, the remains of British climber Jonathan Conville, missing since 1979, were found near the peak of the 4,478-metre (14,692-foot) Matterhorn, whose pyramidal shape makes it one of the world's most recognisable mountains.