Mystery surrounds the discovery of a mummified 'Elephant man' found inside cave on a secluded volcano.
Police said the corpse, uncovered on the iconic Mount Etna on the Italian island of Sicily, had no obvious injuries but had "severe deformities to the face and nose" when he was discovered.
The man was reported to be "well dressed" and in his fifties, with coins at the scene indicating that his body may have been there since as long ago as the late 1970s.
The bizarre discovery has sparked one theory that suggests the disfigured man ventured into the cave voluntarily and let himself die in a possible suicide.
Officers said he was dressed in smart clothes and was wearing a shirt, jumper and raincoat, neatly completing his outfit with a tie.
It was also reported that he wore size 41 shoes [9.5 in UK sizes] and was found with an Omega watch.
His body was found during a joint exercise between police and mountain rescue on the slopes of the iconic Mount Etna at Zafferana, according to The Sun.
A police source said: ”The body was well preserved and dressed with no obvious injuries other than severe deformities to the face and nose.
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“From items found at the scene, we are looking at a time frame spanning decades from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
“His clothes were well preserved and he was very smartly dressed and we are working on the theory he entered the cave voluntarily to die as it is virtually inaccessible and remote.
“We are in the process of checking missing persons reports from the 1970s to 1990s but think he may have gone there of his own free will, possibly because of his appearance.”
'The Elephant Man' was the vile nickname given to 19th century British man Joseph Carey Merrick who had severe deformities.
He was exhibited at freak shows across Europe before dying prematurely at the age of 27.
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