Russia blames avalanche for 1959 Urals mountain tragedy, RIA agency reports

Russia has blamed the death of nine students in the Urals mountains in 1959 on an avalanche and poor visibility, an inquiry has found into the incident which has provoked dozens of conspiracy theories, news agency RIA reported on Saturday.

Russia opened a new investigation in 2019 into the The Dyatlov Pass incident, looking to settle questions about what happened in the harsh winter 61 years ago when the group disappeared on a trek.

Soviet officials concluded at the time that the group died due to "the spontaneous power of nature." But their injuries including skull fractures and broken ribs provided fertile ground for speculation and several books and films were later made to address theories which ranged from an animal assault to an attack by aliens.

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Fact: In February of 1959, nine Russian hikers ventured into a remote area of the Ural Mountains in Russia. Fact: Two weeks later, all nine were found dead. Fact: What happened to them is a mystery that has baffled investigators and researchers for decades. It has become known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Rumors have attributed their deaths to everything from alien encounters and government conspiracies to supernatural causes. To date, no one has been able to adequately explain wh
Black and white toned snapshot of highest mountains in winter during snow storm.
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YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 4, 2019: Files seen during a press conference on the investigation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident case that has recently been reopened. Between February 1 and 2, 1959, a group of nine skiers led by Igor Dyatlov died under unclear circumstances in the Northern Urals. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images)
Voyage au bout du mystère: l'étrange disparition de l'expédition Dyatlov
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YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 4, 2019: The head of Sverdlovsk Region's directorate for the supervision over the execution of federal laws, Andrei Kuryakov during a press conference on the investigation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident case that has recently been reopened. Between February 1 and 2, 1959, a group of nine skiers led by Igor Dyatlov died under unclear circumstances in the Northern Urals. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 4, 2019: Files seen during a press conference on the investigation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident case that has recently been reopened. Between February 1 and 2, 1959, a group of nine skiers led by Igor Dyatlov died under unclear circumstances in the Northern Urals. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 4, 2019: Files seen during a press conference on the investigation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident case that has recently been reopened. Between February 1 and 2, 1959, a group of nine skiers led by Igor Dyatlov died under unclear circumstances in the Northern Urals. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 4, 2019: Files seen during a press conference on the investigation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident case that has recently been reopened. Between February 1 and 2, 1959, a group of nine skiers led by Igor Dyatlov died under unclear circumstances in the Northern Urals. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images)
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Subpolar Ural mountains, view from mountain Narodnaya
A snow covered forest on Taganay Mountain in Russia.
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YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 4, 2019: A member of the Dyatlov group's search team, academician Petr Bartolomei, during a press conference on the investigation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident case that has recently been reopened. Between February 1 and 2, 1959, a group of nine skiers led by Igor Dyatlov died under unclear circumstances in the Northern Urals. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images)
Siberian Military District, USSR. Captain N.Klemichev, a motorized infantry tank battalion commander, during a drill at the firing range. S.Dyatlov/TASS (Photo by TASS via Getty Images)
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The latest inquiry has backed the idea of natural causes including an avalanche which forced the group out of their tents to shelter under a nearby ridge. Lack of visibility then prevented their return.

"It was a heroic struggle. There was no panic. But they had no chance to save themselves under the circumstances," RIA reported, citing Andrey Kuryakov, deputy head of the regional prosecutor's office.

"The version (of the events) about the avalanche has found its full confirmation, but it was not the only cause of their death," Kuryakov said.

The group had cut their way out of their tent and left it to hide at a ridge 50 meters (164 feet) away.

"When they turned back, they did not see the tents. The visibility was 16 meters," Kuryakov said. The group tried to climb down but froze to death in temperatures as low as minus 45 Celsius (minus 49 Fahrenheit).

The case has been the subject of films, books and documentaries, with evidence that authorities hushed up the incident as proof that the students' deaths was more sinister. Boris Yeltsin, the first post-Soviet president, who studied at the same institute, was thought to have believed in an elaborate cover-up.

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