Alpine melt yields old India headlines: Indira Gandhi is PM

/ 06:50 PM July 13, 2020

CHAMONIX, France — The Mont Blanc glacier in the French Alps yields more and 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 woman prime minister in 1966.

A picture taken on July 9, 2020, at the Bossons glacier near Chamonix in the French Alps, shows a 1966 copy of Indian newspaper The Herald with a healdline announcing the election of Indira Gandhi, likely to have been on board the Air India Boeing 707 “Kangchenjunga” aircraft that crashed in the nearby Mont Blanc massif on January 24, 1966. A dozen newspapers dated January 20 and 21, 1966, including some with Indian headlines announcing the election of Indira Gandhi, India’s only women prime minister, were found on July 7, 2020, by the manager of a nearby cafe-restaurant on the Bossons glacier, which regularly spits out remains of the crash. Photo by Bernard BARRON / AFP

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 (4,455 feet) 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 modest 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.

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 ($145,000-$275,000) — thought to have come from the 1966 crash.

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TAGS: Chamonix France, French Alps, India, Indira Gandhi, Mont Blanc glacier
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