A climber who found a treasure trove of emeralds, rubies and sapphires buried for decades in a box in France’s Mont Blanc mountains has now received half of those gems.
The climber, whose name has not been released, had discovered the gems in 2013. The box is believed to have belonged to someone aboard an Indian plane that had crashed on Mont Blanc half a century earlier, in 1966.
The climber was praised for handing over the box to the police, as required by French law.
And now, eight years after his discovery, he has been rewarded with half the treasure of hundreds of precious stones. And Chamonix’s local authority took the other half after a failed attempt to locate the owner’s family in India.
The jewels were divided into two equal lots, valued at around 150,000 euros (more than R$960,000 at current prices) each, Chamonix Mayor Eric Fournier told AFP news agency.
He praised the climber for his “integrity” in handing the found content over to the police.
Two Air India planes have already collided with the Mont Blanc – the first in 1950, killing 48 people. In 1966, a second flight operated by India’s national airline hit the mountain, with 117 people on board.
Officials believe the gems likely came from the 1966 flight, which was en route from Mumbai to New York when it crashed.
Since then, human remains have been found on the mountain, as well as luggage belonging to those on board.
In 2012, a suitcase with diplomatic correspondence from India was found. The bag contained newspapers, calendars and a personal letter from 1966.
The physicist known as the “father” of India’s nuclear program, Homi J Bhabha, was among those killed in the 1966 accident.
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