French climber shares Mont Blanc gems after 2013 find

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A treasure trove of emeralds, rubies and sapphires buried for decades in 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 upon the gemstones in 2013. They had remained hidden in a metal box that was aboard an Indian plane that crashed into the desolate landscape some 50 years earlier.

“The stones have been divided this week” into two equal lots valued at about 150,000 euros ($ 169,000) each, Chamonix Mayor Eric Fournier told AFP.

He said he was “very happy” that the events had come to an end, in particular for the climber whom he praised for his “integrity” in turning over his find to the police as required by law.

Two Air India planes crashed into Mont Blanc in 1950 and 1966.

Over the years, climbers have routinely found debris, luggage and human remains from the aircraft.

In September 2012, India seized a diplomatic courier bag from the Kangchenjunga, a Boeing 707 flying from Mumbai and crashed on the southwest face of Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966.

The accident killed 117 people, including the pioneer of India’s nuclear program, Homi Jehangir Bhabha.

Authorities believe the gemstones likely came from that flight from Mumbai to New York.

(AFP)