The Mont Blanc glacier in the French Alps is yielding more secrets as it melts – this time a clutch of newspapers with banner headlines from when Indira Gandhi became India’s first, and so far only, female prime minister in 1966.
The copies of Indian newspapers the National Herald and the Economic Times were probably aboard an Air India Boeing 707 that crashed on the mountain on 24 January, 1966, claiming 177 lives.
The trove of around a dozen newspapers was found last week by Timothee Mottin, who runs a cafe-restaurant, La Cabane du Cerro, at an altitude of 1,350 metres (4,455 feet) near the Chamonix skiing hub.
“They are drying now but they are in very good condition,” Mottin, 33, said. “You can read them.”
The cafe is around 45 minutes by foot from the Bossons glacier, where the plane named after the Himalayan peak of Kangchenjunga mysteriously crashed.
Mottin said he was lucky to discover the papers when he did because the ice in which they had been encased for nearly six decades had probably just melted.
Once the papers have dried out, they will join a growing collection of items from the crash that Mottin has put on display at his cafe.
He said he preferred to share his finds with visitors rather than “hide them in an attic waiting to sell them” – something he said had become a business for less scrupulous climbers.
Human remains found in the area in 2017 could have come from the 1966 crash or that of another Indian plane, the Malabar Princess, that came down in the same area in 1950.
The most remarkable find so far, of a box of emeralds, sapphires and rubies worth between 130,000 and 246,000 euros ($145,000-$275,000), occurred in 2013 and is thought to have come from the 1966 crash.
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