Body of WWII airman found dangling from a tree

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The remarkable discovery, which has yet to be confirmed by military authorities, was made by astonished trekkers walking the Kokoda Trail, a tortuous mountain path which witnessed intense fighting between Japanese and Australian forces in 1942.

"I couldn't make it out at first. It wasn't until the wind blew that you could really see (that) it is in a harness. There are goggles and it appears to be caught up in cables, so presumably it is an airman," said trekking guide David Collins.

The moss-covered remains, barely visible in the dense jungle foliage, were initially spotted by an Australian police officer who was on a trek led by Mr Collins.

He was using a telephoto lens to photograph exotic plants in the tree tops when he saw a jumble of cords and bits of parachute harness surrounded by creepers and palm leaves.

"We had a few police officers on the 19-man trek. One was taking photos with a large lens of the trees and flowers," said Mr Collins, a firefighter who works part-time as a trekking guide for Melbourne-based adventure company No Roads Expeditions. "He then discovered what looks like the remains of a body." Photographs taken by the trekking party show a dark object hanging about 45ft above the ground.

The trekkers marked the tree from which the object dangled so that it can be easily found again.

If confirmed as a human body it is likely to be the remains of an Australian, American or Japanese airman, left undisturbed in the forest for more than 60 years.

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