updated 8/23/2004 7:24:46 PM ET 2004-08-23T23:24:46

An amateur Italian historian has found the preserved bodies of three Austro-Hungarian soldiers in an alpine glacier, 86 years after they were killed in World War I.

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Maurizio Vincenzi, president of a local war museum and an amateur historian, said Monday that the three were shot dead in a battle to retake the peak of San Matteo on Sept. 3, 1918, when Austro-Hungarian troops were repelled by Italian fire as they left their mountaintop trenches.

War relics are frequently found in the area, but no bodies had been discovered since 1927, Vincenzi said. On Friday, he came across the corpses protruding from a glacier near Peio, 15 miles from the Swiss border.

“To find them in that state was almost impossible,” he said. “The hands and faces were well defined, the fingernails, teeth, and skin on the face were all still there.”

The bodies have not been identified, Vincenzi said, adding they would be buried along with other war victims near the village. A funeral was planned for Tuesday.

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