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30 May, 2024
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Kilograms of cash, diamonds, jewelry and a Picasso still lost after 25 years

The fate of the cargo of Swissair flight 111 remains a mystery to this day

Source: Money Review

Swissair Flight 111 from New York's JFK airport to Geneva, Switzerland, crashes off Nova Scotia, Canada, killing 229 people.

It is a tragedy. But also a mystery that remains unsolved to this day, almost 25 years later. For along with the Swissair plane, five kilos of diamonds and precious jewelry, a Picasso painting worth millions and almost 50 kilos of cash sank to the bottom of the sea.

The fate of this treasure remains unknown to this day.

People in the know told the Canadian Press a few years ago that this mystery may never be solved. The initial attempt to locate the plane's precious cargo was quickly abandoned and treasure hunters who one can safely assume have their eye on it are conducting their searches illegally and in secret.

When the aircraft crashed into the water off Peggys Cove, all 229 people on board were killed instantly and the fuselage was shattered into millions of pieces.

A ship equipped with a giant salvager was enlisted to remove the wreckage from the seabed. The Transportation Safety Board report said 18,000 pounds of the cargo was recovered but gave no further details.

According to Stephen Kimber, author of the book "Flight 111: A Year in the Life of a Tragedy," the flight's cargo included a diamond from the American Museum of Natural History's Nature of Diamonds exhibit in New York, other diamonds totaling about a kilogram, another 4.5 kilograms of precious jewelry, 49 kilograms of banknotes and a version of Picasso's painting Le Peintre.

Swissair Flight 111 was popular not only among UN officials and businessmen but also among diamond merchants, who used it to transport their goods between Switzerland and the United States.

"Somewhere at the bottom of the ocean, theoretically, are these diamonds," Kimber says.

The insurance company Lloyd's is said to have paid $300 million in damages for the diamonds and other jewelry and applied for permission to search the site of the tragedy after authorities' investigation was completed. But the plan to recover the treasure angered the families of the victims, and the insurance company eventually withdrew its application.

After the accident, the Canadian authorities set up a two-square-kilometer exclusion zone around the site for about a year. But after that time, the area was no longer guarded.

That's why it is believed that treasure hunters have been searching the site in silence all these years, probably taking advantage of permits that allow them to search other shipwrecks in the area. There are an estimated 10,000 wrecks off the wild coast of Nova Scotia, and those in the know say the area is something of a "Wild West" for treasure hunters.

In any case, no one can even know if the precious cargo of Swissair Flight 111 survived the fierce collision. After all, the plane hit the water at a speed of 500 kilometers per hour, which means that it was like hitting cement.

During the flight recovery operation, only a small piece of Picasso's painting was found, which had just been sold and was traveling to its new owner.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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