A FRENCH skier who went missing in Italy 64 years ago has finally been identified thanks to a social media appeal, police say.

Human remains, ski equipment and glasses were found in 2005 as ice began to thaw high in the Valtournenche valley in the Aosta region, close the Swiss border.

Officers concluded the skier was French and estimated he had been in his thirties when he disappeared in the late spring sometime in the 1950s.

But aside from that they were left puzzled over the man's identity and last month launched an appeal on Facebook, asking people to share the information.

Frenchwoman Emma Nassem heard the story on the radio and said the man could be her uncle, Henri Le Masne, who went missing after skiing in a storm near the Matterhorn in 1954.

She sent Italian police a photograph showing him wearing a jacket, tie and glasses resembling those found 10,000 ft high in the Alps.

A DNA test was arranged using a bone from the skier's foot and his teeth and compared with Mr Le Masne's 95-year-old brother Roger - who is also Mrs Nassem's dad.

It proved a match and cleared up a 64 year mystery for the family, who are now able to lay Mr Le Masne - who would have been 100 next year - to rest.

Roger, a mathematician who lives in Paris, told the Times: We had become accustomed to the idea that we would never know what happened. But I am very pleased that his body has been found.

I believe in eternal life and the resurrection after death and I believe that would have happened for my brother even if he had not been found.

"But it is still better that he has been found, so that we could organise a funeral ceremony for him. He would have been 100 next year.

Speaking about his older brother, Roger said: "He was a bachelor and quite independent. He worked in the finance ministry in Paris."

Mr Le Masne was a keen skier and had taken time off work to go on holiday to the Alps alone.

He checked into the Hotel Gran Baita in Cervinia on March 13, 1954, and was last seen 13 days later on March 26 - his 35th birthday.

It's thought he was caught in a storm while downhill skiing in the Valtournenche valley.

When news of his disappearance reached the Le Masne family a fortnight later, Roger went to search for his brother but to no avail.

He had left behind some personal items in the room, including 35,000 lire and 5,000 francs.

Then in 2005, a body emerged from thawing ice along with French-made Rossignol skis and boots and a shirt manufactured in France with initials that appeared to read M M.

There were also a pair of glasses and an Omega watch - but this was all investigators had to work with.

In June they launched an appeal for information, which was eventually heard on French radio by Mr Le Masne's niece Emmanuelle, while driving in her car.

Police shared their joy at eventually being able to identify Mr Le Masne with followers yesterday.