A treasure trove of emeralds, rubies and sapphires buried for decades on a glacier off France’s Mont Blanc has finally been shared between the climber who discovered them and local authorities, eight years after they were found.
The mountaineer stumbled across the precious stones in 2013. They had remained hidden in a metal box that was onboard an Indian plane that crashed in the desolate landscape some 50 years earlier.
“The stones have been shared this week” in two equal lots valued at around €150,000 ($169,000) each, Chamonix mayor Eric Fournier said.
He was “very happy” that events had been brought to a conclusion, he said, in particular for the climber who he praised for his “integrity” in turning his find in to police, as required by law.
Two Air India planes crashed into Mont Blanc in 1950 and in 1966.
Over the years, climbers have routinely found debris, baggage and human remains from the aircraft.
In September 2012, India took possession of a bag of diplomatic mail from a Boeing 707 flying from Mumbai which crashed on the south-west face of Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966.
The crash killed 117 people including the pioneer of India’s nuclear program, Homi Jehangir Bhabha.
Authorities believe the precious stones are likely to have come from that flight, which had been en route from Mumbai to New York.