POSSIBLE human bones have been found near the spot missing Durham hiker Esther Dingley was last in contact with her boyfriend in November.

French police confirmed remains were found at Port de la Glere, in the Pyrenees mountains, but said it would take, “several days or even weeks” before they could be properly analysed to obtain positive results.

A mountain runner raised the alarm after coming across what he believed could be the remains of a body, at about 2pm on Friday.

Spanish police went to the area but alerted their French counterparts after discovering the site was just over the border.

French police have now taken charge of the investigation to try to confirm if they are human bones and, if so, to identify the deceased.

Spanish police sources said, however, they appeared to be human bones.

French police chief Jean Marc Bordinaro said: “We cannot say anything at the moment because the discovery of the bones is too recent and they must be properly analysed.

“We will not have a result for several days and possibly several weeks.”

Mr Bordinaro previously admitted the possibility Durham-born Ms Dingley had suffered a mountain accident was a 'strong one’.

A French prosecutor, based in Saint-Gaudens, is expected to make any official statement, should any changes emerge in due course.

The Spanish Civil Guard said the discovery was a matter for the French police to comment on, as the bones had been found on their side of the border.

Civil Guard sergeant Jorge Lopez Ramos led an elite mountain search and rescue team in an eight-day search for Ms Dingley on the Spanish side of the border, but it was halted due to bad weather, in December.

However, it was confirmed late last year that Port de la Glere was on the route Ms Dingley told boyfriend Daniel Colegate she was planning to take prior to her disappearance.

He said: “Esther told her partner she was planning to spend the night in a nearby refuge on the French side of the border, called Venasque, before doing a long half-circle to re-enter Spain through a mountain pass called Puerto de la Glera and heading back down to Llanos del Hospital.

“It would have been a long day's walk or she could have spent the night somewhere and finished the following day.

“We don't know if she reached Venasque that night. It's closed at the moment and only an emergency part of it is open for people to sleep in and consume any food they have with them.'

Mr Bordinaro had previously admitted the possibility Durham-born Ms Dingley had suffered a mountain accident was a 'strong one.'

A Civil Guard source said: “A mountain runner has found what could be human bones just over the French side of the border at Puerto de la Glera.

“He called the Civil Guard who went to the area but after confirming it was on the French side of the border they called the French Gendarmerie who went to the spot and have now taken charge of things.

“They appear to be human remains but it will up to French police now to analyse them.”

Another Spanish source said it appeared, “'90 per cent certain” they were human remains.

Puerto de la Glera, or Port de la Glere in French, is close to the 8,796ft Pico Salvaguardia summit where the Oxford graduate last made contact with Mr Colegate, at about 4pm on November 22 last year.

Specialist officers from Spain and France have carried out several searches of the area around the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail.

The charity representing the family of the Durham hiker said it is, “aware of the discovery”, of possible human remains close to where she went missing.

She was walking alone in the mountains near the Franco-Spanish border and was last seen on November 22.

LBT Global said on a Facebook posting, it was, “aware of the discovery of what may be human remains close to the last known location of Esther Dingley.

But the posting added: “We are urgently seeking clarification.

“The family have been informed of the discovery and we are supporting them now.”

The charity said until further details are confirmed there would no further statement or interviews with Ms Dingley’s family members.

It added that further developments, “may take days or even weeks”.

Mr Colegate claimed in a recent interview he “could no longer agree” with the idea she had suffered an accident.

He told the BBC: 'The search has been so prolonged and so intense, that as far as I'm concerned the probability of an accident is now less than the probability of a criminal act.”

Spanish Civil Guard officers resumed the search for Ms Dingley in mid-June and have been supported by a helicopter from a permanent base in the town of Benasque, where the missing hiker was staying before she vanished.

A Spanish court probe that opened after the Durham-born 37-year-old went missing on November 22 remains open.


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