Japanese mountain climbers' remains found on Matterhorn identified after 45 years

The climbers were identified as Masayuki Kobayashi, 21, and Michio Oikawa, 22, from Tokyo

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The Independent Online

The remains of two Japanese climbers who went missing 45 years ago have been identified months after their bones were found on the Matterhorn Mountain, Swiss police have said.

The human bones were found by a climber 2,800 metres above sea level at the foot of the Matterhorn glacier at Valais canton state in September.

They were taken for forensic examination and by putting together DNA profiles experts were able to identify the remains.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry identified the pair as Masayuki Kobayashi, then aged 21, from Tokyo, and Michio Oikawa, then 22, from Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo.

The Japanese Consulate in Geneva helped Swiss police find their relatives in Japan who were able to provide DNA and verify the climbers’ identities.

Both were reported missing on 18 August 1970 when they were caught in a snowstorm while heading to climb the north face of the Matterhorn, according to Japan’s Kydo News service.

Cantonal police spokesman Stephane Vouardoux told Reuters: “They had spent the night before in a hut because they wanted to ascend the north face of the Matterhorn.”

“They were probably surprised by a snow storm when they disappeared. The snow storm lasted a few days which prevented the rescue teams from searching.”

Remains from long-lost mountaineers are often surfaced due to receding glaciers, police have said.

In October, officials in Bern canton found the remains of a Czech man who had been missing since 1974.

Over 500 people have been killed on the Matterhorn, according to Reuters.

The 150th anniversary of the first ascent up the mountain is being marked this year.

Additional reporting by Associated Press