A Siberian fisherman discovered 54 severed human hands. He was told it’s no big deal

An unpleasant find along Amur river.
An unpleasant find along Amur river.
Image: Reuters/ Shamil Zhumatov
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There’s only one thing worse than finding a severed hand while strolling along a Siberian riverbank: finding 54 severed hands.

A fisherman made such an unfortunate discovery yesterday (March 8th, 2018), while walking along the Amur River in Khabarovsk, Russia.

He saw one hand at first, reported The Siberian Times, before uncovering a bag filled with 54 human hands.

Though a collection of severed body parts suggests criminal activity, an official Russian government investigation has quickly dismissed that possibility, reports Live Science. The Investigative Committee of The Russian Federation declared in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that the hands came from a forensics lab in the Russian city of Khabarovsk. Though the means of disposing of the hands was not legitimate, the committee claimed there was no foul play in originally removing the hands from their bodies.

“The biological objects (hands) found are not of a criminal origin but were disposed of in a manner not provided for by law,” the committee wrote.

It’s not clear why a forensic lab would legitimately need to cut off hands. The Siberian Times reports that there is a little-used practice of severing hands off unidentified corpses as a way of retaining the person’s fingerprints once their body has been buried. Typically, though, it’s possible to have a record of a fingerprint stored in either an online or paper database without keeping the entire hand.

Medical bandages and plastic shoe covers worn in hospital were found near the severed hands, suggesting they were indeed connected to a medical facility. But with little detail about the medical process behind the severed hands, the discovery is still causing suspicion.

In their statement, the committee said they would continue to investigate the circumstances behind “the incident,” and would assess the forensic medical lab’s decision to both remove and dispose of the bags.