PARIS: A French climber scaling a glacier off Mont Blanc got more than just satisfaction for his efforts when he stumbled across a treasure trove of emeralds, rubies and sapphires that had been buried for decades.
The jewels, estimated to be worth up to €2,46,000 ($332,000), lay hidden in a metal box that was on board an Indian plane that crashed in the desolate landscape some 50 years ago.
The climber turned the haul in to local police. “This was an honest young man who very quickly realized that they belonged to someone who died on the glacier.” local gendarmerie chief Sylvain Merly said. “He could have kept them but he preferred to give them to the police,” Merly said, adding that the climber stumbled upon the box earlier this month and that some of the sachets containing the precious stones bore the stamp ‘Made in India.’
French authorities are contacting their Indian counterparts to trace the owner or heirs of the jewels. Under French law, the jewellery could be handed over to the mountaineer if these are not identified, Merly said.
Two Air India planes had crashed here in1950 and 1966. In September last year, India took possession of a bag of diplomatic mail from the Kangchenjunga, a Boeing 707 flying from Mumbai which crashed on the Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966.