Police looking for missing hiker Esther Dingley have found bones near where she last had contact with her boyfriend in November.
French police have confirmed that remains have been found in Port de la Glere, but said it would take “several days or even weeks” before they were properly analyzed and results obtained.
A mountain runner raised the alarm around 2 p.m. Friday after discovering what he believes could be the remains of a body.
Spanish police went to the area but had to warn their French colleagues after discovering the site was just over the border.
French police are now in charge of the investigation to try to confirm that they are human bones and, if so, who they might belong to. Spanish police sources said the bones were human.
Police analyze bones found near where missing hiker Esther Dingley went missing late last year
British hiker Esther Dingley (pictured with her boyfriend Daniel Colegate) missing November 22nd
A mountain runner raised the alarm around 2 p.m. Friday after discovering what he believes could be the remains of a body near where missing hiker Esther Dingley went missing late last year.
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 need to be properly analysed.
“We won’t have any results for a few days and possibly weeks.”
A prosecutor in Saint-Gaudens is expected to make an official statement if there are any changes to the current situation.
The Spanish Guardia Civil said the discovery was a matter for French police, as the bones had been found on their side of the border.
Civil Guard Sergeant Jorge Lopez Ramos, whose elite mountain search and rescue team led an eight-day search for Esther on the Spanish side of the border before being shut down last December due to inclement weather, confirmed late last year that Port de la Glere on the route Esther had told her friend before she disappeared.
Referring to the mountain pass by its Spanish name, he said at the time: “Esther told her partner she planned to spend the night at a nearby refuge on the French side of the border called Venasque before making a long semicircle to re-enter Spain through a mountain pass called Puerto de la Glera and return to Llanos del Hospital.
“It would have been a long day’s walk or she could have stayed overnight and be ready the next day.
“We don’t know if she reached Venasque that night. It is currently closed and only an emergency section of it is open for people to sleep in and consume whatever food they have with them.”
Mr Bordinaro had previously admitted that the possibility that Durham-born Esther had suffered a mountain accident was “strong.”
Specialized agents from Spain and France conducted several searches in the area around the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail, where Esther had been hiking before she went missing.
Esther’s partner claimed in a recent BBC interview that he ‘could no longer agree’ with the idea that she had been in an accident
A Guardia Civil source said: ‘A mountain runner has found what may be human bones just over the French side of the border at Puerto de la Glera.
“He called the Guardia Civil who went to the area, but after they confirmed it was on the French side of the border, they called the French gendarmerie who went on the scene and is now in charge.
“They look like human remains, but it’s now up to the French police to analyze them.”
Another Spanish source said it appeared “90 percent certain” that the remains were human remains.
Puerto de la Glera – Port de la Glere in France – is close to the 8,796ft Pico Salvaguardia summit where Oxford graduate Esther last made contact with her partner Dan Colegate on November 22 last year around 4pm.
Specialized agents from Spain and France have carried out several house searches in the area around the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail.
Esther’s partner claimed in a recent BBC interview that he “could no longer agree” with the idea that she had been in an accident.
He said: “The search has been so long and so intense that as far as I’m concerned the chance of an accident is now less than the chance of a criminal offense.”
Agents of the Spanish Civil Guard resumed the search for Esther in mid-June and have been supported by a helicopter from a permanent base in the town of Benasque, where the missing hiker stayed before disappearing.
A Spanish inquest opened Nov. 22 after the 37-year-old from Durham went missing remains open.
Esther Dingley’s missing campervan was parked in Benasque. Witness Lucie was walking her dog Tipo when, on December 2, she saw the camper with the light on and someone in it
British walker Esther Dingley was seen in the Eroski supermarket in Benasque, Spain, on Nov. 19, days before her sudden disappearance
A female judge an hour’s drive from the village of Benasque in the Pyrenees in Boltana remains responsible for the Spanish judicial inquiry sparked by Esther’s disappearance.
Maria Saenz Martinez has yet to approve the return of Esther’s motorhome that had traveled to Spain to her boyfriend.
The vehicle remains with a Guardia Civil in Benasque, where it was taken for forensic analysis shortly after Esther disappeared.
French investigators have launched their own investigation and regularly shared information with their Spanish counterparts, but are said to have received no new clues as to what might have happened to the missing Briton since the search in the mountains was suspended.
Esther was supposed to spend the night in an unmanned shelter on the French side of the border on the day of her last conversation with her boyfriend, but it is not known if she ever arrived.
They spoke after reaching the summit of the Pico Salvaguardia, which the French call Pic de Sauvegarde, for the second time in two days.
She was seen by several witnesses, including an Olympic Spanish skier who asked for some fruit to hike on the trail leading to the summit.
Esther’s mother admitted in February: “Every day was an unbearable hell for me, teetering on the brink of collapse.
“Not knowing where she is or what happened to our beautiful Esther is destroying me and our family.”