London – A British scientist missing on the Greek island of Ikaria was found dead yesterday in a 20-metre deep ravine.
Natalie Christopher, 35, a London-born astrophysicist, had been reported missing on Monday by her Cypriot boyfriend after she failed to return from a morning run.
She was identified by her partner, 38, and was still clothed in her running gear.
Emergency service workers who found her body told the country’s public broadcaster ERT last night that a large rock had dislodged as she fell, crushing her and causing multiple head injuries.
Dr Christopher’s body was being kept overnight in the spot, which is in an area known as Katafygi, so that a coroner can examine her today.
The body, found by a volunteer firefighter, was said to have bites from wild animals. A forensic examiner is expected to determine whether they occurred before or after her death.
Authorities are exploring the possibility that she slipped into the ravine, which is barely visible from a nearby footpath.
Theodoros Chronopoulos, a Greek police spokesman, said: ‘The body was found in a ravine – a small canyon – between 600metres and a kilometre from the hotel where the couple were staying.’ It was too early to tell whether she had fallen into the ravine or had been pushed, he told The Daily Telegraph.
‘We have to await the report from the coroner, which will take two to three days, in order to have the answers,’ he said.
Oxford-educated Dr Christopher, who lives in Nicosia, Cyprus, had been spending a few days in Ikaria with her partner.
The keen runner, rock climber and hiker was not in the hotel when her boyfriend awoke on Monday morning, he said.
He said he had called her mobile phone and Dr Christopher explained she was running but would take things ‘slowly’ on the rocky terrain. He then became worried when she did not return and there was no response when he rang her phone again.
Before the body had been found, police had begun investigating spots of blood found on Dr Christopher’s pillow in the couple’s hotel room. The linen has been sent to a laboratory in Athens for testing.
Her boyfriend has insisted they came from a nose bleed Dr Christopher had suffered the night before her disappearance.
He remains on the island and his brother and a Spanish friend have flown out to support him.
Police sources told the Daily Mail: ‘He is not a suspect. He has been very co-operative but we are not ruling out anything until the inquiry is concluded.’
Cyprus Trail Runners, which Dr Christopher was a member of, had sent a group to the area in the hope of identifying the route she might have taken.
A friend helping to co-ordinate the efforts said of the latest news: ‘I just can’t speak about it – it’s too distressing.’