Man found completely mummified just 16 days after he was last seen alive leaves investigators baffled
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**Warning: Contains images of a mummified body.**
Investigators have spoken out in confusion after finding a man completely mummified despite last being seen alive 16 days before.
On 3 September, authorities in Sofia, Bulgaria discovered a man's body on the side of a railway line.
The 34-year-old was last seen alive on 18 August, but when he was found, his body was in a stage of 'complete mummification', which has baffled investigators.
The man was discovered wearing a t-shirt, shorts and socks - clothes he was seen wearing when last spotted alive 16 days previously.
According to Cureus Journal of Medical Science, he also had a bag 'packed with personal stuff and a bottle of alcoholic beverage'.
"There was information that the deceased was chronically abusing alcohol. The body was sent for an autopsy at the Clinic of Forensic Medicine and Deontology, Sofia. During the external examination, no traumatic injuries were found," Cureus' report continues.
As a result of the 'complete mummification' of the body in just 16 days, the man's soft tissues and internal organs had completely dissolved, unable to be tested properly.
The man's cause of death is subsequently 'unknown' - although the science journal notes it 'concluded that it is not associated with traumatic injuries' and 'cannot exclude the possibility of alcohol intoxication or complications related to its chronic abuse'.
Mummification typically takes 'several weeks to months' according to the journal. So how did the man end up completely mummified in just 16 days?
Well, apparently in 'some cases' mummification can displace the decomposition process, but it all depends on certain factors, such as 'dry air, good ventilation, solar radiation and high temperature'.
In Bulgaria, in the 16 days since the man was last spotted, the temperature ranged from 'between 16°C and 33°C' and there was a 'relative humidity for August at 52 percent'.
"The wind in Sofia during August blows at an average speed of 8.1 mph (13.03 km/h)," the journal adds.
The journal explains there are certain factors which are 'known as mummification-inducing'.
It says: "The following criteria must be met: a 24-hour maximum temperature > 30°C, an average solar radiation > 600 Wm-2, an average daytime humidity < 50 percent, and a windy day (daytime wind speed/gust measures of 20-30 mih-1, 32.1948.29 kmh-1)."
In the 34-year-old's case, the measured values during the 16 days were 'close to near-mummification-inducing'.
It adds: "We assume that the movement of the trains since he was found next to a railway line, could provoke an additional 'windy condition,' which could help in the fastening of the process."
The journal concludes the 34-year-old's case is 'an extremely rare event' - there 'few reported cases in the literature with rapid, also known as precocious mummification'.
It resolves: "The presented case shows a complete natural mummification of the human body over just 16 days. The illustrated case will enrich the literature and will raise awareness of the possibility of fast-occurring mummification."