Jean-Pierre Clatot /AFP/Getty Images
What treasures lie buried here? Three climbers traversed part of the Mont Blanc massif earlier this month.
What treasures lie buried here? Three climbers traversed part of the Mont Blanc massif earlier this month. Jean-Pierre Clatot /AFP/Getty Images
A French mountain climber came upon an unexpected treasure earlier this month near Mont Blanc in the French Alps, The Guardian writes.
It was a small metal box containing rubies, sapphires and emeralds worth an estimated $332,000. It's thought, The Wall Street Journal says, that the box "was on board one of two Indian planes that crashed in the mountains, one in 1950 the other in 1966."
According to France 24, "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 told AFP." The news network adds that:
"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."
Authorities aren't naming the climber.
CNN has more on the two ill-fated flights:
"The gems may be from the 1950 crash of Air India Flight 245, the 'Malabar Princess.' The plane smashed into nearby Mont Blanc during a storm, killing all 48 aboard. When it crashed, the plane was preparing to make a stop in Geneva, Switzerland, as it flew between Bombay — now Mumbai — and London.
"French authorities say it's also possible the gems could have been aboard an Air India Boeing 707, the 'Kanchenjunga,' that crashed in nearly the same spot 16 years later. A diplomatic bag from that flight was recovered last year."