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Alpine melt reveals copies of Indian newspapers likely from 1966 plane crash

The papers were probably aboard an Air India flight that crashed on the mountain in January 1966.

A view of the Nid d'aigle Bionnassay glacier in the Chamonix Mont Blanc region in France.
A view of the Nid d'aigle Bionnassay glacier in the Chamonix Mont Blanc region in France.
Image: Sachelle Babbar

THE MONT BLANC glacier in the French Alps yields more and more secrets as it melts – this time a pile 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 January 24, 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, perched at an altitude of 1,350 metres near the Chamonix skiing hub.

“They are drying now but they are in very good condition,” Mottin (33) told AFP.

“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 were encased for nearly six decades “had probably just melted”.

Once the papers have dried out, they will join a growing collection of found items from the crash that Mottin has put on display at the Cabane du Cerro.

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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 were found in the area in 2017 that could have come from the 1964 crash or that of another Indian plane, the Malabar Princess, that came down in the same area in 1950.

The most stunning find occurred in 2013, that of a box of precious stones – emeralds, sapphires and rubies worth between €130,000 and €246,000 euros – thought to have come from the 1966 crash.

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