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Visiting France

Mountaineer finds emeralds, rubies, sapphires in Mont Blanc snows

media Mont Blanc Flick'r/Tom Fahy/CC

A French climber, scaling a glacier off Mont Blanc earlier this month, stumbled across a treasure trove of precious gems, probably lost after the crash of an Air India plane decades ago, police said on Wednesday.

Yesterday’s edition of the Dauphiné Libéré carries the story of the find, including emeralds, rubies and sapphires, which the climber took to the police on 9 September.

The jewels, estimated to be worth up to 246,000 euros, lay hidden in a metal box that was on board the plane.

Some of the sachets containing the precious stones bore the stamp 'Made in India.', said Sylvain Merly of the Bourg Saint-Maurice gendarmerie.

"This was an honest young man who very quickly realised that they belonged to someone who died on the glacier," he added.

French authorities are contacting their Indian counterparts to try 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 crashed into Mont Blanc in 1950 and in 1966. Climbers routinely find debris, baggage and human remains.

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 southwest face of Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966.

The crash killed 117 people including the pioneer of India's nuclear programme Homi Jehangir Bhabha.

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