THE baffling deaths of nine students – blamed on murderous aliens – on a cross-country ski trip in Siberia are to be re-examined 60 years later.
Russian cops are probing the mysterious Dyatlov Pass Incident, where the group’s near-naked bodies were found in -30C, including a woman missing a tongue and her eyeballs, about a mile from a slashed tent.
Two women and seven men died in unusual circumstances after setting off on a 185-mile expedition in late January 1959 in the Urals.
No full explanation has yet been given for their deaths, which were attributed to «a spontaneous force» in an autopsy report, putting an abrupt end to the initial investigation six decades ago.
Search parties sent out to rescue the missing group found their tent slashed open from the inside, apparently in a desperate attempt to flee, as the front flaps were still buttoned shut.
Then, the bodies of two men, stripped to their underwear, were found lying at the base of a pine tree about a mile away.
It appeared that one had tried to climb up the tree as there was damage to the branches of the pine, about five metres high, reports ABC News.
A further three bodies were found lying in the snow between the pine and the tent.
But the remaining four missing hikers were not located until two months later, when they were also found partially clothed, in a ravine about 75 metres from the pine tree.
In all, there are 75 theories about how and why the nine ski hikers died, including that they were fatally attacked by fugitive prisoners – or an abominable snowman – in the Ural Mountains.
Alexander Kuryakov, chief of justice administration for the Sverdlovsk prosecutor, announced the Dyatlov Pass incident was being reopened.
He told reporters this week: “Relatives, the media and the public still ask prosecutors to determine the truth and don’t hide their suspicions that something was hidden from them.”
The re-launched investigation will see a team return to the site in March, to recreate the scene of the deaths.
According to Keith McCloskey, author of “Mountain of the Dead. The Dyatlov Pass Incident”, in January 1959, “10 experienced young skiers set out to travel to a mountain named Mount Otorten in the far north of Russia.
“Otorten translates to ‘don’t go there’ in the local Mansi language.”
Apparently one of the team fell ill and returned home.
The remaining nine, all aged in their 20s, became lost and ended up on another mountain slope, Kholat Syakhl, or Mountain of the Dead.
McCloskey adds: “On the night of February 1, something or someone caused the skiers to flee their tent in terror, using knives to slash their way out instead of using the entrance.
“When they failed to return home, search parties were sent out and their bodies were found, some with massive internal injuries but all without external marks.”
Each member of the party was experienced in lengthy ski tours and mountain expeditions.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident is named after the expedition leader, Igor Dyatlov, who was 23.
HOW DID THEY DIE?
Some had broken bones and severe internal injuries but – adding to the mystery – higher than normal levels of radiation were found on parts of their clothing.
Investigators at the time said the hikers tore open their tent from the inside, fled barefoot into heavy snow, despite the -30C temperature, according to Russian website Tass.
There were no signs of any struggle on the corpses, yet several had fractured skulls and broken ribs, while one, Lyudmila Dubinina, 20, had her tongue cut out, and her eyeballs were also missing.
A pathologist concluded the deaths were caused by a force equal to that of a car accident, or the shock wave caused by an explosion.
One bruised body was found wearing two hats, but with no footwear.
Medical examiners concluded they had all frozen to death.
WHAT ARE THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES?
No one can explain why the panic-stricken young adults fled into treacherous conditions during the night in the first place.
Although Lev Ivanov, the official Soviet investigator, quickly concluded all nine deaths were caused by an unknown elemental force, privately he told people he had assumed they’d been killed by aliens in a UFO, reports MailOnline.
There were reports of strange lights and “bright orbs” in the sky at the same time.
One of the 75 theories swirling about their odd deaths is that a missile might have misfired, or a low-flying jet sent out shock waves, which frightened them out of the tent.
Or could it have been linked to ultra-sonic weapons – given that they passed away in the height of the Cold War?
Donnie Eichar, author of «Dead Mountain», suggested that «infrasound» caused by howling winds caused a panic attack in the group, which forced them to run into the snow, reports The Times.
Other theories include that they were attacked by criminals on the run, local Mansi people, or that an avalanche smashed into the tent.