Sunday, September 27, 2020

Mystery of 1966 Air India crash, that killed nuclear pioneer Bhabha, is unravelling bit by bit

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An Air India Boeing 707, similar to the one that crashed at Mont Blanc in 1966 | Photo: Commons


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New Delhi: Over the past few decades, the global movement to fight climate change has picked up unprecedented momentum. Scientists, activists, and environmentally-conscious governments have pointed to changing weather patterns and the havoc that would be caused by global warming in the decades to come.

Every once in a while, global warming not only reminds us of the upcoming upheaval, but also unearths hidden mysteries of the past. Earlier this month, something similar happened in one corner of the French Alps: Indian newspapers from 1966 resurfaced underneath the melting Bossons glacier at Europe’s second highest peak, Mont Blanc.

There was the front page of the National Herald from 20 January 1966, which declared the election of Congress leader Indira Gandhi as the prime minister of India. There were also copies of The Hindu and The Statesman, believed to be from Air India 101, the Boeing 707 named ‘Kanchenjanga’ that crashed into Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966, killing all 117 passengers and crew on board. Back then, just a fraction of the wreckage was found.

These newspapers were found by Timothée Mottin, who runs a cafe, La Cabane du Cerro, in Chamonix, the resort town on the French side of Mont Blanc (the France-Italy frontier passes through the summit). Numerous individuals and news outlets tweeted about the discovery.

But they were far from the first objects from the crashed Air India flight to be found.


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