The Dyatlov Pass Incident, part 2

Read part 1 here.

Autopsy results and more information

Yuri Doroshenko, 21.
Dyatloff_group_115_Dor[1]Born in 1938 he was a student of the UPI university. He was once involved in a relationship with Zina Kolmogorova and even met her parents in Kamensk-Urals. Although they broke up he kept a good relationship with her and Igor Dyatlov.
Doroshenko was one of the two bodies found under the cedar tree and he was wearing a vest and a short sleeve shirt, knit pants and shorts over pants. His pants were badly ripped with one large hole (23 cm in length) on the right side and smaller on the left (13 cm in length). Pants had tears on the inside of the thighs. On his feet he had a pair of wool socks. The left sock was burned. He had no footwear.

– The hair was burned on the right side of the head.
– His ears, nose and lips were covered in blood.
– His right armpit had a 2 x 1.5 cm bruise.
– On the inner surface of the right shoulder were two abrasions 2 x 1.5cm with no bleeding in the tissues, two cuts on the skin.
– On the upper third of right forearm were brown- red bruises sized 4 x 1 cm, 2.5 x 1.5cm, 5 x 5cm.
– The fingers on both hands had torn skin.
– Bruised skin in the upper third of both legs.
– Frostbite on face and ears.
– On the right cheek there were foamy grey discharges from the mouth.

The foamy grey fluid that was found on the right cheek gave some doctors a reason to think that before death someone or something was pressing on his chest cavity. This could also be a result of a nasty fall from a tree. Nevertheless this aspect was ignored in the final papers. Cause of death: hypothermia.

Yuri Krivonishenko, 24
Dyatloff_group_115_Kriv[1]Born in 1935 he graduated from UPI University in 1959.

Krivonishenko was the second of the two bodies found under the cedar tree. He was dressed in a shirt, long sleeved shirt, swimming pants, pants and torn sock on his left leg. He had no footwear.
– Bruises on the forehead 0.3 x 1.8cm and a bruise around the left temporal bone.
– Diffuse bleeding in the right temporal and occipital region due to damage to temporalis muscle.
– The tip of the nose is missing.
– Frostbitten ears.
– Bruises on the right side of the chest 7 x 2cm and 2 x 1.2cm.
– Bruises on hands.
– Detachment of the epidermis on the back of the left hand at width of 2cm.
– A portion of the epidermis from the right hand is found in the mouth of the deceased.
– Bruises on the thighs with minor scratches.
– Bruise on his left buttock 10 x 3cm.
– Abrasions on the outer side of the left leg size 6 x 2cm and 4 x 5 cm.
– Bruises on the left leg 2 x 1, 2 x 1.5 and 3 x 1.3 cm.
– Burn on the left leg 10 x 4 cm

Igor Dyatlov, 22
Äÿòëîâ ÈãîðüBorn in 1937. A student of the 5th Faculty of Radio Engineering at the UPI University. A talented engineer designed and assembled a radio during his 2nd year, which was used during hikes in 1956 in Sayan Mountains. He also designed a small stove that was used since 1958 by Dyatlov himself and that he had brought with him on this trip. People who knew Igor described him as a thoughtful man who never rushed into anything. He courted Zina Kolmogorova who also took part in the hike. Igor Dyatlov was one of the most experienced athletes in the group.

The head of the deceased was bare. He had unbuttoned fur coat with pockets, a sweater, long sleeved shirt, ski pants over his pants. Footwear was absent. He had only one pair of socks, woolen on the right and cotton on the left. He had a pocket knife and a photo of Zina Kolmogorova.
– Minor abrasions on the forehead.
– Abrasions above the left eyebrow of brown- red color.
– Brown- red abrasions on both cheeks.
– Dried blood on lips.
– Lower jaw had a missing incisor, the mucosa was intact that suggest the tooth was lost long before the final trip.
– On the lower third of the right forearm and the palm surface many small scratches of dark red coloration.
– Metacarpophalangeal joints on the right hand had brown red bruises. This is common injury in hand to hand fights.
– Brownish- purple bruises on the left hand, also superficial wounds on the 2nd and 5th finger.
– Bruised knees without bleeding into the underlying tissues.
– On the lower third of the right leg bruising.
– Both ankles had abrasions, bright red, size 1 x 0.5 cm and 3 x 2.5 cm. Hemorrhage into the underlying tissue.
There were no internal injuries. The cause of death was hypothermia. Later Yury Yudin would testify that the long sleeved shirt found on the body of Igor Dyatlov was his. But he gave it to Doroshenko then he was departing. It would be logical to assume that Dyatlov got it from a frozen body of the Doroshenko after he had died.

Zinaida Kolmogorova, 22
Zina KolmogorovaBorn in 1937, she was a 4th year student at the UPI University as a Radio Engineering Major. She was an experienced hiker who had her share of difficulties. During one of her trips she was bitten by a viper. Despite pain and suffering she refused lighten her load, unwilling to cause hardship to others.

Zina was better dressed than the bodies underneath the cedar. She had two hats, long sleeved shirt, sweater, another shirt and a sweater with torn cuffs. It was unclear whether she cut them off or they were torn by another person. She also had trousers, cotton athletic pants, ski pants with three small holes on the bottom and a military mask. She also had three pairs of socks. No footwear.
– Swelling of meninges, the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, common feature of hypothermia.
– Frostbites on the phalanges of fingers.
– Numerous bruises on hands and palms.
– A long bruise that encircled her torso on the right side, 29 x 6cm.
Her cause of death was proclaimed as hypothermia due to violent accident.
Further studies proved that she was not sexually active at the time of her death.

Rustem Slobodin, 23
Dyatloff_group_115_Sl[1]Born in 1936, he graduated from the UPI University in 1959. He was a very athletic man, honest and decent, although quiet at times. He liked to play mandolin that he often brought with him during long hiking trips. His father was a professor at another Sverdlovsk University. Although Rustem was ethnically Russian his father gave him a traditional Tatar name following a popular fashion of international friendship of all men. This was USSR after all with its own ideology.

Rustem wore a long sleeve shirt, another shirt, sweater, two pairs of pants, four pairs of socks. Unlike previous bodies he wore one boot (valenki) on his right leg. His pockets had 310 rubles and a passport. Additionally searchers discovered a knife, pen, pencil, comb and a match box with a single sock.
– Minor brownish red abrasions on the forehead, two scratches are 1.5 cm long at the distance of 0.3 cm between them.
– Brownish red bruise on the upper eyelid of the right eye with hemorrhage into the underlying tissues.
– Traces of blood discharge from the nose.
– Swollen lips
– Swelling and a lot of small abrasions of irregular shape on the right half of the face.
– Abrasions on the left side of the face.
– Epidermis is torn from the right forearm.
– Bruises in the metacarpophalangeal joints on both hands. Similar bruises are common in hand to hand combat.
– Brown cherry bruises on the medial aspect of the left arm and left palm.
– Bruises on the left tibia the size of  2.5 x  1.5 cm.
– Fracture of the frontal bone of the skull and hemorrhages in the temporalis muscle. This could have been done by some foreign blunt object. Medical autopsy further states that Slobodin probably suffered loss of coordination due to initial shock right after the blow that could speed up his death from hypothermia. It is still somewhat unclear how he managed to harm his exterior hands and legs. When a person falls, even in an irrational state, it is usually the palms that suffer the most as well as medial aspects of the legs. Injury to the head is less common, especially bilateral ones. It is also usual to harm the face and sides of the skull while the back of the head has no damage. In case of Slobodin body we see the opposite. His injury pattern is a reverse of what we would usually see in injuries suffered by a freezing man in the last minutes of his life.

The four bodies in the den were found several months after their deaths and were inspected on May 9, 1959.

Lyudmila Dubinina, 21
0_50713_afe7198b_M[1]Born in 1938, she was a third year student in the UPI University, an Engineering and Economics Major. She was active in tourist clubs, liked to sing and take pictures. Many of the pictures of the last trip were shot by her. During an expedition to the Eastern Sayan Mountains in 1957 she was accidentally shot by another tourist who was cleaning his rifle. She endured the painful injury courageously. During the long and painful transportation back she didn’t complain but felt sorry for causing the group trouble.

Lyudmila wore a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, and two sweaters. The body was covered by underwear, long socks, two pairs of pants. External pair was badly damaged by fire and subsequently ripped. She also wore a small hat and two pairs of warm socks. A third sock was not paired. Lyudmila apparently in the last attempt to preserve her feet took off her sweater and cut it in two pieces. One half she wrapped around her left foot. Another half she left or dropped unintentionally on the snow.
– Tongue is missing. Missing hypoglossal muscle as well as muscles of the floor of the mouth.
– Soft tissues are missing around eyes, eyebrows, and left temporal area, bone is partially exposed.
– Eyes are missing.
– Nose cartilages are broken and flattened.
– The # 2, 3, 4 and 5 ribs are broken on the right side, two fracture lines are visible.
– The # 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 ribs are broken on the left side, two fracture lines are visible.
– Soft tissues of the upper lip are missing, teeth and upper jaw is exposed.
– Massive hemorrhage in the heart’s right atrium
– Bruise in the middle left thigh, size 10 x 5cm.
– Damaged tissues around left temporal bone, size 4 x 4cm
It is mentioned that the stomach contained about 100 g of coagulated blood. It is used by some as an indication that the heart was beating and the blood was flowing when the tongue was removed. The cause of death is stated as hemorrhage into right atrium of the heart, multiple fractured ribs and internal bleeding.

Semen Zolotarev, 38
He was born in 1921. He was the oldest and also the most mysterious member of the group. A native of North Caucasian Kuban Cossacks he survived the Great Patriotic War serving from October 1941 till May 1946. Survival rate for the generation born in 1921- 22 was 3% so Semen Zolotarev was a very lucky man in those days. Additionally his real name was Semen while everyone called him “Sasha” or “Alexander”. There is no credible explanation as to why he chose to introduce himself by a different name.
It is known that he joined a Communist party after the war. In April 1946 Zolotarev transferred to Leningrad Military Engineering Univeristy. Later he transferred to the Minsk Institute of Physical Education (GIFKB). In the yearly 50’s he worked as a guide for the tourist base Artybash in Altai in Southern Siberia.

The body of Semen Zolotarev was found with two hats, scarf, short, long sleeve shirt, black sweater and a coat with two upper buttons unbuttoned. It was fairly clear that he did not die from hypothermia. The lower part of the body was protected by underwear, two pairs of pants and a pair of skiing pants. He had a copy of newspapers, several coins, compass, and a few other items. His feet were protected by a pair of socks and a pair of warm leather handmade shoes known as “burka”. Additionally the body of Zolotarev had a camera around his neck which is clearly seen in the pictures. This camera was a complete surprise to Yuri Yudin. He had assumed the group had only four cameras which were found in the tent. Unfortunately melting water damaged the film. But the question still lingers; why did Zolotarev leave the tent with the camera and why did he take two cameras on the trip? One was used on daily basis and everyone saw it. It was left in the tent and discovered there by the search party, but another was hidden throughout a journey and was found only after Semen Zolotarev had died.
– Eyes are missing.
– Missing soft tissues around the left eye brow, size 7 x 6cm. Bone is exposed.
– Flail chest. The # 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 ribs are broken on the right side, two fracture lines.
– Open wound on the right side of skull with exposed bone, 8 x 6cm in size.
Both Zolotarev and Dubinina have an interesting pattern of injuries. They are very similar in direction and force despite difference in shape, height and body composition of the two. This would suggest that whatever caused these injuries was not a single uniform event.

Aleksander Kolevatov, 25
Dyatloff_group_115_Kolev[1]Born in 1934, he was a 4th year student as a Physics Major at the UPI University. Prior to moving to Sverdlovsk he finished the Sverdlovsk Mining and Metallurgy Collegy majoring in metallurgy of heavy nonferrous metals. He distinguished himself as a good student and moved to Moscow to work in secret institute of the Ministry of Medium Machine Building that was called merely by its serial number of I 3394. Later he moved to the Research Insitute of Inorganic Materials that was engaged in producing materials for the growing nuclear industry. In 1956 he moved back to Sverdlovsk and joined UPI. His friends described him as diligent, pedantic and methodical with clear leadership qualities.

– Lack of soft tissues around eyes, eyebrows are missing, skull bone is exposed.
– Broken nose.
– Open wound behind ear, size 3 x 1.5cm.
– Deformed neck.
That is all the information there is on Kolevatov’s autopsy. It is possible the body was too decomposed to extract more information.

Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle, 25
i_010[1]Born in 1934, he graduated in 1958, majoring in Civil Engineering, from the UPI University. He was the son of a French Communist who was executed during the Stalin years. He was born in a concentration camp for political prisoners. His friends liked him for his energy, good sense of humor and generally friendly and open character. Everyone  who knew him and went on camping trips with him told of the care he had for all members of the group. He often helped younger or weaker members of the group carry their things. He fixed their bags to reduce the pain and make them more comfortable.
Nicolai had promised his mother that this would be his last hiking trip.

– Multiple fractures to the temporal bone of the skull, with extensions to the frontal and sphenoid bones.
– Bruise on the upper lip on the left side.
– Hemorrhage on the lower forearm, size 10 x 12cm.

Vozrojdenniy, who undertook the autopsy, excluded accidental fall on the rock as a possible cause for such a massive and unusual fracture.

The last four bodies had all suffered significant damage to their bones. They were crushed with immense force. Doctors compared the extent of the damage to being hit by a car.

Additional information

Alexander Kolevatov kept a personal diary. Yuri Yudin, the only survivor of the group, testified that it was with him on the last trip. The diary went missing.

Judging by the pictures taken by the group at least one of the cameras went missing.

Strange unidentified cloth “obmotki”, an old school version of socks, was found near the bodies.

Semen Zolotarev introduced himself as “Alexander” to the group. In fact most memorials of the group list his name incorrectly.

Yuri Krivonishenko, the man whose clothes had heightened levels of radiation, was once working in Chelyabinsk- 40, a secret nuclear facility that experienced a disaster that became known as Kushtumkoy accident. On September 29, 1957 the plutonium plant had a radioactive leak. Yuri Krivonishenko was among the people who were sent to clean it up. However, being an engineer Yuri had more knowledge about radioactivity than most people at the time and it is highly unlikely that he kept any of the clothes that he was wearing two years prior to the trip.

On the morning of March 31 the group of search and rescue volunteers saw strange glowing pulsating orbs in the sky. One of the members, Valentin Yakimenko, described this event;
“It happened early in the morning while it was still dark. Viktor Mescheryakov who stood guard that night left the tent and saw a large glowing sphere in the sky. He woke everyone up. We watched this orb (or disc) for about 20 minutes until it disappeared behind the mountain. We saw it in the South- East direction from our tent. It was moving in a Northern direction. This event freaked everyone out. We were sure that this event was somehow involved in the death of the Dyatlov group”.

Several witnesses and family members reported strange discoloration on the bodies of the victims. One of the family members compared their skin color to those of the people of African descent.
There could be a natural explanation for this though. When a body dies its cells build up with toxins and then burst. The fluid causes skin slippage. It looks like a really bad sunburn on the top surface. The process is called autolysis.
Link here (Warning! Graphic images)


Several theories have arisen in the last decades as to what really happened during the Dyatlov Pass incident. Among them are;

Soviet special forces getting rid of witnesses.
Maybe the group saw something they were not supposed to.

Western spies.
It is possible one or more of the members in the group could have been recruited as spies by western civilizations. It’s possible they were meeting people on the mountain and things went sour.

Criminals escaped from Siberian concentration camps.
Escapes from concentration camps did occasionally happen and for an escaped prisoner to avoid being recaptured he would have had to keep to the wilderness, possibly for years. It is unlikely the group ran into one or more of these escaped convicts, and it’s even more unlikely that they would have all perished due to such a meeting, but it remains a theory none the less.

Mansi natives.
During the investigation some people remembered a woman geologist in the 30’s who ventured onto the sacred land of this proud, unconquered nation. She was subsequently tied and thrown in the lake.
This theory was however abandoned for lack of evidence. Also, Kholat Syakhl was never a sacred place. It was feared and it was avoided, no one considered it important for the beliefs of the native people.

As much as avalanches are common in the mountains in the winter, Kholat Syakhl is not a very tall mountain, and it’s definitely not steep. Another thing that speaks against this theory is the relatively thin snow cover reported by the group.
However these facts don’t exclude the possibility of a small avalanche. A portion of the upper layer of snow could simply shift and roll over the hikers as a slab of snow. This could damage the tent and create havoc among tourists who were suddenly trapped underneath several feet of snow. It would certainly explain why the tent was cut from inside. Further retreat would be necessary if the tourists were worried a second avalanche would strike.

According to the supporters of this theory Dyatlov Group tried to make their way back to the Auspiya river but instead made the fatal mistake of descending into the valley of the Lozva river. After 4 weeks the snow that was rushed down the slope of the mountain was simply blown off by the strong winds that are common in the region. This would erase all signs of a natural disaster.
This theory has gaps however. From what we can tell by the naked footprints left by the group everyone seemed to descend with relative ease. It is highly unlikely that three people with broken ribs and flail chest would be transportable at all. And here we see several badly damaged men and a woman walk without problems or even help from any of the members of the group. Secondly these men and women were experienced and well trained. They knew that a risk of freezing to death is more likely than getting killed by an avalanche.
And finally, if you look at the pictures taken February 1st on the left and February 26th on the right you can see the ski pole that has kept its vertical position on the slope for weeks after the tragedy struck. Furthermore the entrance of the tent is clearly elevated. Only the middle portion collapse probably due to hasty escape or weigh of snow simply collecting here.

Secret launches/ UFO/ meteor.
When all natural theories seem to fall short trying to explain what happed during the Dyatlov Pass incident people tend to consider more unorthodox ones. Although this theory may seem farfetched at first glance there might be some merit to it.
Pulsating orbs were seen repeatedly in January, February and March by students, geologists, natives and even local military. Mansi hunters that camped out near Kholat Syakhl claimed to have seen flying orbs near the mountain. Their testimonies were later stricken from the record. Additionally several geologists 70 km from the mountains saw some glowing and pulsating orbs flying in the direction of the Kholat Syakhl on the evening of the tragedy. These testimonies were ignored.
In early April several testimonies were gathered from local soldiers who claimed to have seen UFO’s on February 17 around 6:40am. They all described slow moving orbs that were moving from South to North in a strange cloud of dust or a fog.
Members of the rescue party also claimed to have witnessed these mysterious orbs.
So what were these orbs? Some think they could have been secret tests of R-12 rockets. These rockets weren’t officially delivered until March of 1959, although American intelligence claims the bases were established as early as in November 1958.
There were also several bases in the region containing the S- 75 rocket, the rocket used to shoot down the infamous U- 2 plane just south of Sverdlovsk in 1960.
Another possibility is that the orbs were space rockets launched from Baykanur base, the chief base for the Soviet Space program that is still in use today. About this time several rockets were launched from said base, though the military claimed the rockets landed in the northern Ural mountains, far from the site of the Dyatlov Pass.
There have been suggestions that an infrasound, possibly coming from the rockets, might have been responsible for sudden unpleasant feelings among the Dyatlov group, driving them to leave the tent in a panic. This theory however does nothing to explain the injuries of the group and is therefore less interesting.
Another reason the missile/ rocket theory is unlikely is that the witnessed orbs changed trajectory several times, something missiles/ rockets are not prone to doing.

i_038[1]Lev Ivanov, the man who was in charge of the investigation at the Dyatlov Pass, lived a long life. In the early 1990’s he gave an interview to a local journalist where he made a statement that during his investigation he and E.P. Maslenikov both noticed that the pines in the forest were burned at the top. He also claims that A.P. Kirilenko, member of the Soviet Congress, along with his advisor A.F. Ashtokin forced Ivanov to take out all references to the unknown flying objects or other strange phenomena. This included pictures of flying spheres drawn by the Mansi hunters and other testimonies.

It is true that Soviet Union experienced a boom of interest on everything unknown in the late 80’s. Skeptics might also think that Ivanov gave this interview to make money. However it should be mentioned that Kirilenko became obsessed with UFO’s after the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Starting in the early 60’s he filed several requests to gain access to the KGB archives. We don’t know what was found in the documents, but it is undeniably strange that a political figure in USSR paid such keen interest to this subject. UFO’s were not investigated by the official science as it was seen as pseudo- religious phenomena. Atheist Soviet Union obviously prohibited any interest in the subject, especially among members of the highest legislative body in the country.

Yeti/ Menkvi.
Some people won’t even consider this theory, but fact remains that almost anywhere you go on earth locals have stories about a huge ape-like creature roaming the area. The same applies here.
The Mansi people believe an angry and violent animal known as the Menk or Menkvi roams the Ural mountains. The legend claims that their behavior and aggression toward the humans is the reason why gods punished the world with the great flood. Very few Menkvi survived on top of the mount Luv-Syakvur. Others drowned. These few creatures are left to walk in solitude across empty land. They die, but they are later reborn in the same shape and appearance.
Several members of the search party later remembered the state of shock that some of the native Mansi experienced when they found the bodies. Some of them believed that death of the young Russian group might have been caused by a Menkvi, since they believed several caribous or reindeer belonging to a local Mansi herder were killed by a Menkvi  just few weeks prior to the accident.
The bodies of the 9 Mansi hunters that were found dead on the mountain were left in place, but they too showed strange signs of internal damage. The Mansi were somewhat uneasy about the possibility of encountering these flesh eating monsters in life.
The cuts on the tent may not have originally been made as a means of escape but as a way to view the surroundings. It is possible that the group felt threatened and wanted to look outside without opening the tent entrance and leaving themselves exposed.
It is possible that a panic broke out inside the tent if the group saw something like a Menkvi and that they tried to escape by ripping the tent and going down the slope. This would explain why they left their warm clothes and other necessities in the tent. It would possibly also explain why Zolotarev brought a camera with him.
A creature described as the Menkvi, an aggressive and violent creature could probably have caused the injuries inflicted on the group. It’s not a pleasant theory though as you can only imagine the absolute horror the group must have felt, isolated in the dark and cold night on the mountain with some kind of monster hell bent on killing them.
Interestingly, the American Embassy in Nepal sent a document to The Department of State, Washington entitled ‘Regulations covering mountain climbing expeditions in Nepal – Relating to Yeti’. It contained three regulations for that climbers must abide by should they encounter a Yeti. Interestingly, the date shown on this document is December 20, 1959.
Another possibility is that the group encountered a particularly angry bear. A bear could probably have caused the bone injuries to the group, although it seems unlikely that the group would show so few flesh wounds. There were abrasions on the bodies but they seem to be far less serious that those bear claws would cause.

The search party digging around the tent
The search party digging around the tent

54 years on, the Dyatlov pass incident still remains a mystery. And the mountain of Kholat Syakhl continued to claim lives. In 1960-61 several air crafts went down in the area, claiming the lives of yet another 9 people.
Tourists today repeat the track of the Dyatlov group, but none of groups ever contain 9 people.
In the early 2000’s a group of 9 tourists under supervision of a rescue crew repeated the same descent down the slope of Kholat Syakhl. Despite snow cover and night time none of the participants recieved any significant bruises or cuts. Those who observed the students did not report any difficulty in locating members on the mountain side. None of the group members were lost and vocal/ eye contact was constant between the group’s members at all times. This only adds to the mystery of what really happened on Kholat Syakhl that day.
The case of Dyatlov Pass deaths remains open.

What I find most confusing is that the most severely injured individuals, the ones in the den, were the last to die. It clearly shows that they took the clothes off their fallen comrades in an effort to save themselves, which they would not have been able to do had they already suffered the injuries. Therefore one must conclude that whatever happened on the mountain happened over a period of time and not just once. This pretty much takes the avalanche theory out of the equation.
Furthermore, two of the individuals, Dyalov and Slobodin show clear signs of hand to hand combat. Did they fight each other? Or an intruder?
And the injuries done to the people in the den, especially to Lyudmila Dubinina, seem so excessive. Such extreme overkill. If someone caused them they would have to have been very, very angry…
In any case, writing about this incident has been hard. It’s only too easy to imagine the feelings of horror and hopelessness the group must have felt, no matter what actually happened.

The last photo of the roll of film in the camera. Could have been snapped accidentally.
The last photo of the roll of film in the camera. Could have been snapped accidentally.

Read more about the Dyatlov Pass incident on wikipedia, and a very extensive article here.


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