Mont Blanc climber stumbles across £200,000 treasure trove full of Indian jewels on glacier

Metal box filled with rubys, emeralds and sapphires has been discovered after being buried for decades

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The Independent Online

A French Mount Blanc mountain climber who stumbled upon a case of cut jewels worth hundreds of thousands of pounds has been praised by police for immediately handing them over to authorities.

The treasure trove of emeralds, rubies and sapphires had been buried for decades.

The jewels, estimated to be worth up to 246,000 euros (£206,000) lay hidden in a metal box that is believed to have been on board an Indian plane that crashed in the desolate landscape some 50 years ago.

Police commander Sylvain Merly of France's Savoie region said the experienced climber, who has asked to remain anonymous, found the box marked “Made in India” while scaling one of the peak's glaciers.

He turned it over to police on 9 September.

Authorities are hoping to trace someone connected to the original owner of the box, who is presumed to have been a passenger on one of the two jets that crashed in 1950 or 1966.

Merly said debris from the Air India crashes regularly rises to the surface on Mont Blanc.

“Things come up from the glaciers,” Merly said. “They're always moving.”

Merly said the climber's decision to turn over the box immediately “means that there are still honest people.”

“He could have kept them but he chose to turn them in because he knew they belonged to someone who probably perished,” Merly said.

The 1950 crash killed all 40 passengers and 8 crew members on board the flight. All 106 passengers aboard the 1966 flight died, after the plane crashed in almost exactly the same location. The cause of the second crash was never established.

Additional reporting by Associated Press