Hiker Finds Over $300,000 Worth Of Buried Treasure In The Alps

Mont Blanc Alps
Tom Fahy, Flickr

It sounds like something out of a movie, but a mountaineer scaling the Alps has come across a valuable stash of jewels including emeralds, sapphires, and rubies, buried in the snow — a treasure trove estimated to be worth $332,000.

The French climber stumbled across a metal box while scaling Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, earlier this month. Upon opening it, the hiker discovered colorful gemstones, some of which were wrapped in pouches marked “Made In India.”It’s believed the jewelry ended up in the Alps following one of two Indian plane crashes in the region — one which took place in 1950 and another that occurred 16 years later. Other cargo and belongings from those plane crashes have previously been discovered in the area, but this latest discovery could be one of the most valuable stashes to be uncovered.

The mountaineer handed the loot over to French authorities who are working to track down the owners of the lost treasure. However, a local police officer told the AFP that under French law, the valuables could be handed over to the hiker if the owners or heirs of the jewelry are not found.

San Francisco Hotels Ripping Off Stranded Travelers?

san francisco golden gate bridge
Jeff Gunn, Flickr

Hotels in the San Francisco area have come under scrutiny for price gouging following the Asiana Airlines plane crash on Saturday.

Thousands of flights were postponed or cancelled following the tragedy, leaving many travelers stranded in the city. Apparently, the sudden surge in demand for hotels led many establishments to up their prices – in some instances, dramatically so.

According to an NBC News report, mid-range hotels in San Francisco (which typically charge around $100-200 per night) were listing their rooms for ten times the usual rate. One example included a Best Western hotel, which had bumped its sticker price from $149 to a whopping $999 for a one-night stay.When later probed about the sky-high room rate, Best Western claimed that the advertised rate was a “mistake” and told Hotelchatter that no guests were actually charged the $999 rate. Instead, they were charging $309 versus the usual $149 rate.

NBC found many other hotels in the city were also charging significantly above the usual tariff.

We want to know, have you seen or been asked to pay an exorbitant price for a San Francisco hotel room following the plane crash?

Five Months After Antarctic Plane Crash, Crew Declared Dead

Antarctic plane crash on Mount Elizabeth
Drew Coleman/Antarctic NZ

Three crew members who were aboard an aircraft that went down in the Antarctic this past January were officially declared dead by a coroner in New Zealand this week as the inquiry into the accident got underway. The small Twin Otter airplane was en route from the South Pole to an Italian research station near Terra Nova Bay when it crashed into the side of a mountain. Pilot Bob Heath, as well as crew members Mike Denton and Perry Anderson, all lost their lives in the crash.

The fatal accident is under investigation by the Canadian Transport Board but since the plane went down in an area of Antarctica that is under the jurisdiction of New Zealand, a coroner from that country had to make the official pronunciation of the death of the crew. During the inquiry, it was revealed that the plane took off on schedule and that the pilot was checking in every hour of the flight as expected. There were no indications of any problems at all right up until the moment that the emergency beacon went off.

While the report hasn’t been able to reveal any mechanical issues with the aircraft, the judge overhearing the investigation stopped short of saying pilot error was the cause of the plane crash. Instead, he seemed to place the blame on the harsh conditions in Antarctica, which could pose problems even for very experienced pilots.The judge also expressed his admiration for the search and rescue teams that put their lives on the line in an attempt to find the missing plane in January. When the aircraft went down, a multinational effort was launched with the hopes of finding survivors. A SAR team even climbed the treacherous slopes of Mount Elizabeth to get a first hand account of the crash site.

Another team is planning to return in October to recover the bodies of the three men which were impossible to retrieve in the deteriorating conditions at the time.

Plane Crash Memorialized In The Deep Sahara

Google Earth

In a lonely corner the Sahara Desert, Google Earth shows what looks like a tattoo on the sun-parched sands: a dark graphic blot amid the vast remoteness of Niger’s Tenere region. The negative space in the center of the dot forms the shape of a DC-10 jet plane. Four arrows outside the circle point in each direction, like a compass.

The dark mass large enough to register on a satellite is actually an arrangement of boulders improbably hauled to the desolate area and hand-placed to create the precise image of a DC-10 – a memorial for the 170 victims of the UTA 772 plane crash on Sept. 19, 1989. A terrorist’s bomb downed the aircraft in Niger en route from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Paris, leaving no survivors.

Fifteen years later, victims’ relatives from the group Les Familles de l’Attentat du DC-10 d’UTA used some of their $170 million settlement to fund the memorial. (Last year, another commemorative site opened at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.) This photo gallery offers an up-close look at the arduous labor of love, illustrating such daunting tasks as excavating one of the wings, later incorporated into the design. Parts of the wreckage remained in the sand when the work began (a testament to the remoteness of the crash site), and the gallery includes stirring images of loose, twisted aircraft seats and other debris. Other striking photos show how the group spent two months moving stones by hand to outline a circle 200 feet in diameter and then fill it in with rocks, leaving an empty space in the shape of the aircraft with remarkable accuracy. Broken airplane windows ring the circle, one for each of the 155 passengers and 15 crew members who perished.

Considering that Lonely Planet describes the Tenere as a classic “endless, empty desert,” the photo gallery will be the closest look most of us ever get of this amazing memorial.

Plane Crash Kills 19 In Nepal

A plane crash in Nepal killed everyone on boardA plane bound for the infamous Lukla airport in Nepal crashed yesterday, killing all 19 people on board. It is believed that the aircraft struck a bird shortly after takeoff from Kathmandu, resulting in the crash minutes later. This is the sixth such accident in the past two years, calling into question the level of air safety in the country.

The plane, operated by Sita Air, set off with 16 passengers and three crewmembers for the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, which is the starting point for trekkers hiking to Everest Base Camp. Shortly after departure, the air traffic controllers noticed an erratic maneuver by the aircraft and when contacted by radio the pilot indicated that they had struck a vulture. The plane was attempting to safely return to Kathmandu when it went down.

Reports indicate that there were seven passengers aboard from both the U.K. and Nepal, while the other five people were Chinese nationals. Most were there on holiday and were preparing to trek in the Himalaya Mountains.

Over the past two years, 120 people have been killed in similar accidents throughout the region. Most were either on their way to or from the airport in Lukla at the time. According to the BBC, Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has vowed to improve safety and prevent similar accidents from happening in the future, although he has not outlined exactly how he intends to improve safety just yet.

Having made that same flight a few years back, I can tell you that it is a beautiful journey into the mountains, but most of the planes look like they’ve seen their better days. At the height of the trekking season, which is just getting underway now, aircraft are constantly in and out of Lukla. That means that there are dozens of similar flights all day long, weather permitting.

Hopefully the Nepalese government will introduce a more stringent maintenance and inspection process to prevent similar problems in the future.

[Photo credit: Associated Press]