The Recoveries from Air India crash site at Mont Blanc


Significant body parts discovered on Mont Blanc in French Alps where two Air India planes crashed more than 50 years ago, are only the latest finding by Daniel Roche, who has been combing the Bossons glacier on Mont Blanc for years. The explores have previously found crucial documents, human remains, jewelry ad much more.

The mountain was site of two crashes: Air India 101 Kangchenjunga in January 1966 and Air India 245 Malabar Princess on 3 November 1950. All passengers aboard were killed. Among the passengers who were killed in the 1966 crash was the renowned scientist Dr Homi Bhabha, who was the father of India’s nuclear program. Bhabha was of the belief that if India had to be a major power– it had to launch nuclear programs in peaceful areas of agriculture, medicine and power. He died at the time the country was mourning then Prime Minister Shastri’s death and Indira Gandhi came to power. His remains have never been recovered from the Alps.

Homi Jehangir Bhabha

The Bosson glacier, however has been pushing up debris from the crash and it is often found by climbers.

What was Found on the Glacier and When

2016: Documents marked as “Top Secret” from External Affairs Ministry is found on the glacier. The documents  are of classification “A” (top secret) and “B” (official communication). According to the Diplomat, some originated from the East Asia Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, and concerned Indian assessments of Chinese defense production, missile development, and nuclear weapons program. Other documents were meant for the Indian Ambassador Khub Chand in Stockholm. Few were for Indian embassies and high commissions more generally.

The document called “Secret” was an analysis of China’s position in  international system. Not all such documents have been recovered from the glacier. Most of these have been recovered by scavengers, climbers and are not in proper sequence.

August 2014: Daniel Roche found a trove of treasures on the ice–50 pieces of jewellery. Roche had told the French media: “They were scattered around a big cone at the Plateau des Pyramides, as if they had been placed the previous day. There were bracelets, necklaces, pendants, gold chains, earrings.” Roche added these to his collection.

2013: A French alpinist found a metal box containing precious gems- emeralds, rubies, and sapphires- worth hundreds and thousands of euros on the shoulder. The stones, which were about 100 in total, were packed in sachets and marked “Made in India”. Jewellers estimated the value of stones at €246,000 (£205,000/ Rs 18,531,180). The climber took the box down the mountain and straight to the police. Considering the scavenging the mountain has seen, the unnamed mountaineer’s actions were praised by the local police and media.

August 2012:  A jute bag which had been marked as “Diplomatic Mail” and “Ministry of External Affairs” was recovered by mountain rescue worker Arnaud Christmann and his neighbour after some tourists spotted it on the glacier.

Weighing about 9 kgs, the bag had newspaper reports from January 1966. The rescue worker handed it over to the town of Chamonix and it was returned to the Indian Embassy in Paris. Along with the diplomatic mail, an aircraft wheel and a shoe was also found.

The blackbox of the 1966 crash has not been recovered yet.

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