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Death renews iceman 'curse' claim


DeanCollins

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Saturday, 5 November 2005, 12:56 GMT o.gifdot_629.gif

Death renews iceman 'curse' claim

_40986854_oetzi_203ap.jpg Should working with Oetzi carry a health warning?

The death of a molecular biologist has fuelled renewed speculation about a "curse" connected to an ancient corpse. Tom Loy, 63, had analysed DNA found on "Oetzi", the Stone Age hunter whose remains were discovered in 1991.

Dr Loy died in unclear circumstances in Australia two weeks ago, it has been announced, making him the seventh person connected with Oetzi to die.

Colleagues and family of Dr Loy have rejected the notion that he was the victim of a "curse".

It is not known how many people have worked on the Oetzi project - and whether the death rate is statistically high.

The amateur climber who found Oetzi in 1991, Helmut Simon, was killed during an unexpected blizzard in the Alps last year, not far from the original find.

His body was missing for eight days before it was located.

Within hours of Mr Simon's funeral, the head of the mountain rescue team sent to find him died of a heart attack, aged 45 and apparently in good health.

Four other people associated with Oetzi have died, prompting rumours of a "mummy's curse":

  • Rainer Henn, 64, a forensic pathologist who handled the body. He was killed in a car crash the following year
  • Kurt Fritz, the mountaineer who led Dr Henn to the body. He was killed in an avalanche shortly after Dr Henn died
  • Rainer Holz, 47, a filmmaker who made a documentary about removing the body from its block of ice. He died of a brain tumour soon afterwards
  • Konrad Spindler, 66, an archaeologist who was a leading expert on the body. He died of complications related to multiple sclerosis.

Scoff Dr Loy's brother Gareth said the two had never talked about a curse - and that Tom Loy had been in poor health, with a condition that caused his blood to clot.

An inquest into Dr Loy's death was inconclusive, ruling out foul play but unable to determine if he had died of natural causes, an accident, or both, Gareth Loy told The Australian newspaper.

An unnamed colleague of Dr Loy scoffed at the idea of a curse, the newspaper reported: "He didn't believe in the curse. It was just superstition. People die."

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