“Indira Gandhi to be Prime Minister.” “India’s first woman prime minister.” These are headlines from the front pages of old newspapers found by a cafe owner in the French Alps as a glacier melted with the rise in summer temperatures, according to photos released by AFP.
The trove of Indian newspapers dating back to 1966 are thought to have been aboard the Air India Boeing 707 named “Kanchenjunga” that crashed on nearby Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966, claiming 177 lives. Another Indian plane, the Malabar Princess, crashed in the same area in 1950.
The newspapers found last week by the cafe-owner from the town of Chamonix, Timothee Mottin, are dated January 20 and 21, 1966, AFP reported. They include copies of The Hindu, The Statesman, National Herald and The Economic Times.
The Alpine glacier above Chamonix has been a tourist spot since the 19th century, but it has shrunk dramatically in recent years.
Air India flight 101 crashed near the mountain on January 24, 1966. It was flying from Mumbai to London, with stops at Delhi, Beirut and Geneva. It crashed before stopping in Geneva.
Among its passengers was Dr Homi Bhabha, who was then the head of India’s Atomic Energy Commission. The official cause of the crash was a misunderstood instruction from a radar controller to the pilot.
However, there have been several conspiracy theories put forth, especially since nuclear scientist Bhabha was on the flight. Some have claimed that the crash was engineered to dent India’s nuclear energy programme.
The story of the crash and Homi Babha’s death is the subject of Nicholas Wild’s graphic novel What If. Read it here.