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Russian Officials Reportedly Close Investigation Into Mysterious 1959 Hiking Disaster

The tent belonging to the group, as it was discovered on February 26, 1959
The tent belonging to the group, as it was discovered on February 26, 1959

A Russian prosecutor said the mysterious deaths of a group of hikers killed six decades ago in the Ural Mountains was due to hypothermia, disorientation, and an avalanche, and that the newly reopened investigation was now closed.

The comments, reported on July 11 by RIA Novosti news agency, were the latest effort to try and dispel the conspiracies regarding the notorious Dyatlov Pass incident, which has captivated Russians for decades.

Last year, the Prosecutor-General's Office announced it was reopening the investigation into how the hikers died on February 1-2, 1959, at a place that was later named after the group's leader, Igor Dyatlov.

Information about the case was classified by the Soviet authorities until the 1970s.

Soviet investigators concluded that during the night, an "unknown, compelling force" prompted the two women and seven men to cut their way out of their tents and flee the campsite without shoes or warm clothing, despite the freezing cold.

They determined that six of the hikers died of hypothermia, while three had signs of physical trauma including skull fractures and chest injuries. One of the women had her tongue and eyes removed.

That conclusion of "an unknown, compelling force" spawned dozens of theories and conspiracies including animal attacks, infrasound-induced panic, military testing, and even alien forces. Numerous articles and TV news segments have examined the incident over the years.

But Andrei Kuryakov, a top official in the Ural regional prosecutor’s office, told RIA Novosti that officials concluded that the hikers had left their tents in the night during brutal weather conditions to avoid a possible avalanche, but then became disoriented and froze.

“The cause of the hikers’ death was natural forces, which the hikers were not able to overcome,” he said.

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