The body of an American scientist has been found in a bunker used by the Nazis during the Second World War on the Greek island of Crete.

Suzanne Eaton died as a result of a “criminal act”, says Antonis Papadomanolakis, a state coroner who examined her body.

A post-mortem concluded the molecular biologist at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden in Germany died of asphyxiation.

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The 59-year-old, who went missing a week ago, had been attending a conference on the Mediterranean island.

Police, including homicide detectives, have flown in from the Greek capital, Athens, to lead the investigation. 

Dr Eaton had gone for a run on 2 July and colleagues raised the alarm when she did not show up.

Authorities launched a major search for her in rural areas near Chania, helped by members of her family and fire service rescuers from Athens. 

Her passport, wallet, phone, money, and cycling shoes were in her hotel room, according to a social media page set up by family and friends appealing for help finding her.

Dr Eaton’s body was found by cavers in the disused military bunker, which is a system of caves used by the Nazis during the occupation of Crete during the Second World War.

Her body was covered in burlap, leading Greek authorities to conclude she had been murdered, the Greek Reporter website said.

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The Max Planck Institute said in a statement that she was “a leading scientist in her field, a strong athlete, runner and senior black belt in Taekwondo”.

After her body had been found, it said: “There is an ongoing homicide investigation being led by the police in Crete, which has taken comprehensive measures to ensure that the responsible party(ies) will be brought to justice.”

It added: “We will remember forever the extraordinary scientist, so caring and devoted to her family and friends and so beloved by us all. We remain in disbelief of this shocking and awful tragedy.”

Dr Eaton was married to British scientist Tony Hyman and was the mother of two sons, Max and Luke.

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