Remains found in Pyrenees belong to missing hiker Esther Dingley

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Esther Dingley (ESTHER & DAN via REUTERS)
Esther Dingley (ESTHER & DAN via REUTERS)

Human remains found in the search for British hiker Esther Dingley have been confirmed as being hers.

Ms Dingley, 37, had been walking solo in the Pyrenees near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on November 22.

LBT Global, the charity representing her family, said DNA testing confirmed that human remains found in the search were a match.

The charity stressed that the investigation is still in its infancy, with just one bone currently located.

Ms Dingley’s partner Daniel Colegate and her mother Ria Bryant said in a statement: “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.”

They said that 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.

Search and rescue teams intend to continue their search on foot and with drones, particularly trying to find some sign of Ms Dingley’s equipment.

Mr Colegate and Ms Bryant said 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.

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

Mr Colegate and Ms Dingley met at Oxford University and lived in Durham before they set off travelling around Europe in a camper van six years ago.

Ms Dingley went missing after opting to go hiking alone while Mr Colegate stayed in a farmhouse in Gascony.

She was last seen near the Spanish and French border in the Pyrenees.

Mr Colegate last heard from his girlfriend at 4pm on the day she went missing when she sent him a selfie from the Pic de Sauvegarde.

Spanish authorities were reportedly alerted of her disappearance on November 25 and informed their French counterparts the next morning, having found her camper-van parked on the Spanish side of the border.

There have been several searches of the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail in the hope Ms Dingley would be found.

LBT Global chief executive Matthew Searle said: “This is the tragic end we have all feared.

“This is devastating news for Esther’s loved ones – never before have I seen such incredible determination as that showed by Daniel in his relentless physical search of the mountains.

“We ask that media leave the family in peace at this incredibly difficult time.”

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