More than six decades after the mysterious death of nine Russian hikers in the Ural mountains, an investigation has found that an avalanche was to blame.
The incident on Dyatlov Pass in February 1959 triggered wild rumours and conspiracy theories, including that aliens, ritual murder or a secret rocket test could have caused the deaths. The Soviet-era government secrecy only served to fuel speculation.
The engineers and students had been found dead in their nightwear. Some of the bodies showed signs of seemingly inexplicable injuries.
Initial reports from the authorities said that the skin and hair of some of the dead had gone grey, and radioactivity had been measured on their clothing.
A new inquiry started more than a year ago aimed to the settle the question of what really happened 61 years ago.
Andrei Kuryakov, from the regional prosecutor's office, released the results on Saturday, attributing the deaths to natural causes.
According to Russian news agency Ria Novosti, Kuryakov said the most likely explanation was that an avalanche began as the group slept in the mountains some 2,000 kilometres east of Moscow.
Froze to death
The hikers were able to leave their tents and seek shelter under a slope. But when the wall of snow barrelled toward them, visibility was lost and they eventually froze to death, he said, adding that the temperature was around minus 40 degrees Celsius.
More than 70 versions of the possible circumstances of death were investigated and experiments were conducted, the prosecutor said.
The injuries were characteristic of avalanche victims, Kuryakov said, adding that he now considers the case closed.
Relatives have already told their lawyer that they do not believe the prosecutor's version of events.