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Bodies in New Zealand believed to be Canadian hikers

The bodies are believed to be those of Louis-Vincent Lessard and Etienne Lemieux.

By Ed Adamczyk
Bodies in New Zealand believed to be Canadian hikers
The Kepler Track is a 37-mile hiking trail in New Zealand. Photo by Michael Klajban/Wikimedia

TE ANAU, New Zealand, July 27 (UPI) -- New Zealand authorities said Monday the bodies of two men found after an avalanche are those of missing Canadian hikers.

Louis-Vincent Lessard and Etienne Lemieux, both 23, did not return to Montreal as scheduled after a hiking expedition on the Kepler Track, a 37-mile hiking trail near Te Anau, New Zealand. They were last seen at a hostel on July 6. New Zealand police believe the two bodies pulled from avalanche debris are those of Lessard and Lemieux but have yet to make a positive identification. No other hikers were reported missing.

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It is winter in New Zealand, and Sgt. Ian Martin said snow was particularly deep three weeks ago.

"The majority of people who walk the Kepler track do it in summer and there's seldom any snow," Martin said. "Totally different story in winter, when large volumes of snow can fall in that area. Not many people at all walk the Kepler track in winter."

Both of the missing hikers were regarded as an expert outdoorsmen, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The first body was found over the weekend, the second on Monday.

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