Human remains found in search for Brit hiker Esther Dingley confirmed as hers

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Human remains found in the search for Esther Dingley tragically belong to the British hiker, it has been confirmed.

The adventurer, 37, went missing on November 22 as she made her way to the summit of Pic de Sauveguard, between France and Spain.

Esther, originally from Durham, was due to meet boyfriend Dan Colegate, 38, at a farm in Gascony, southern France, but she never showed up.

Last week, a mountain runner discovered bones near the spot where she vanished in the Pyrenees.

It has since been confirmed that one of them belonged to Esther.

Her partner and mum Ria Bryant said in a joint 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.

"At this stage, 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.

"The search and rescue teams intend to continue their search on foot and with drones, particularly trying to find some sign of Esther's equipment to understand how this tragedy occurred.

"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, all of whom have remained in close contact with us for months now. Their continued support and their determination to find answers is welcome."

Her mother Ria Bryant, 74, moved to the Pyrenees in June to help search for Ms Dingley.

She told the Sunday Times following the reported uncovering of remains: "The dentist is sending a scan of Esther's teeth. We have to send it to the consulate in Bordeaux."

Ms Bryant had been due to return to the UK prior to the discovery but told the paper: "I'm now going to stay."

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