It reads like the opening scene of an "Indiana Jones" movie. A young man climbing a French glacier finds a cache of glittering jewels wrapped in bags stamped "Made in India" -- remnants, perhaps, of cargo from an ill-fated airliner called the Malabar Princess. The best thing about it? This story is true. It happened early this month on a glacier overlooking the southeastern French village of Chamonix, Albertville police Chief Sylvain Merly said Thursday. The climber -- who Merly said asked to remain anonymous -- found the jewels inside a metal box atop the glacier. He turned them over to police in Bourg-Saint-Maurice on September 9. Merly declined to characterize the stones, which are being described in French media as rubies, sapphires and emeralds. They're worth somewhere between €130,000 (about $175,000) and €246,000 ($331,600), Merly said. French authorities are trying to trace ownership of the jewels. If proof of ownership can't be established, the unnamed 20-something mountaineer could stand to receive a portion of their value, Merly said. 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. Adding a bit of intrigue to the story, the 1966 crash is the subject of scattered conspiracy theories suggesting the Air India flight, which carried the father of India's nuclear industry, Homi Bhabha, was shot down by a fighter jet or missile. Debris from the wrecks routinely emerges from the bottom of the glacier, including metal, wire and even a piece of landing gear discovered in 1986, according to a Mont Blanc tourist site.
Also, A diver found a college ring in a South Carolina river that had been lost for 40 years and managed to track down its owner — and discovered the a touching family story. "It was emotional for me. Finding the jewelry and finding out the story behind it," diver Brian Tovin told the Daily News. The owner's mother bought him the College of Charleston class ring back in 1974 shortly before dying of pancreatic cancer. Just two weeks after Robert Phillips got the ring, he lost it while boating in the Cooper River with his future wife Nancy, CNN reported. "Losing it in the river, we never thought we would never, ever, ever see it again," she told the network. For Phillips, who was raised without a father, the ring represented his resolve to succeed and his mother's love. Late last month, Tovin was diving 40 feet beneath the Cooper River when he first spotted the shiny, gold ring. "The bad news is that the Cooper River has limited visibility, strong currents and alligators," diver Brian Tovin told The News. "The good news is because of that, not many people are doing it, so you can find a lot of things." The ring was inscribed with a few clues: 1974, the College of Charleston and the initials RLP. So Tovin called the college's alumni association and asked if anyone had those initials from the class of 1974 — one was female, the other was Robert LeVaughn Phillips. Through social media, Tovin and his fellow divers found Phillips' son Eric. "Everyone from Cooper River Divers was so supportive. This is not a monetary value thing. This is a sentimental value thing. It's not like you are finding a $50 bill. This means something to someone," Tovin said. But Phillips was not in his house to receive the ring. Last Tuesday, Tovin found him in the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston where he is fighting cancer, as his mother had before. "I thank you Lord that I got it back," a tearful Phillips said in a reunion shot by CNN. "I think mama is (still looking after me)." In the hospital, Tovin finally learned of the ring's importance — something his family has known for decades.
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(Photo from CNN and Getty Images)
Tags : Locations : Bombay, Chamonix, Geneva, London, Mumbai, South CarolinaPeople : Also, Brian Tovin, Cooper River Divers, Eric, Homi Bhabha, Nancy, Robert LeVaughn Phillips, Robert Phillips, Sylvain Merly