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Colin Madsen, Missing U.S. Student, Found Dead in Siberian Mountains

Missing US Student Found Dead in Siberia 0:20

The body of an American student who went missing in a mountainous region of Siberia has been found, investigators and the State Department said Monday.

Police, rescuers and volunteers had been combing the area in search of Missouri native Colin Madsen. The 25-year-old disappeared after leaving his guesthouse in the Russian Republic of Buryatia's village of Arshan on March 27, reportedly without wearing a coat.

His body was found Sunday about one mile from Arshan at the foot of the Sayan Mountains, according to Russia's Investigative Committee.

Image: Colin Madsen
Colin Madsen, whose body was found Sunday. Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs

There were no obvious signs of injury, Madsen's clothing was intact and he was carrying personal items and money, the committee said in a statement in Russian.

Investigators have yet to establish exactly how he died or why he left the guest house without telling friends.

The State Department confirmed Madsen's death but referred questions about the circumstances to Russian authorities.

"We extend our deepest condolences to his loved ones," it said in a statement. "The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is providing consular assistance. Out of respect for Mr. Madsen's family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.‎"

Madsen entered a student exchange program in Irkutsk State Linguistic University in 2013. He spoke fluent Russian and had traveled to Arshan four times before his disappearance.

Madsen and two friends were planning to scale a 1.2-mile high mountain known as the "Love Peak," according to local reports.

Daily temperatures in the region have been hovering around 32 degrees, with rain and sleet, hampering the search.

Local shamans joined the search operation, regional news site Baikal-daily.ru reported.

"There are plenty of sacred sites here," shaman Radna Dashitsyrenova was quoted as saying. "Their hosts may mislead [hikers]. You need to pay them honors before a trip, otherwise such tragedies would happen."

Though the population of Buryatia is split between Buddhism and Orthodox Christianity, beliefs persist in traditional animistic cults worshiping various spirits of the land.