Hunter finds signs of gold treasure in central Vietnam

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Tran Van Tiep (R), 98, explores the Binh Thuan Province's Tau Mountain where he claims he'll find a hidden treasure of 4,000 tons of gold. Photo by Que Ha

A 98-year-old man has claimed he has detected signs of a large metal block in central Vietnam's Tau Mountain, which he believes to be the hidden gold treasure he has hunted for years.

"However, it has yet to be identified as gold, jewels or old antiques," said Vu Van Bang, chairman of the Earth Radiation Environment Research Joint Stock Company and spokesperson for Vietnam's well-known treasure hunter Tran Van Tiep of Ho Chi Minh City.

Tiep says the lost gold he's searching for is worth more than US$200 billion.

Bang said his team detected signs of the treasure by a technology called "secondary magnetic geo-radiation" he claimed to be "the most modern scientific technology for accurate results."

"The main part of the treasure is located 45 meters (148 feet) underground with a 100-meter [blocked] entry passage. However, the metal block is much smaller than the expected 4,000 tons of gold," he said.

On October 7, the Binh Thuan Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, held a meeting for Tiep and his team to report on their search for the gold.

At the meeting, Tiep proposed extending his license to explore the mountain to one year, instead of the 6-month extension previously approved.

According to the proposal, the license will be valid until the end of next year due to delays during the rainy season and the site's complicated geology.

Bang said it would take a long time because they have to excavate the site with small explosions instead of big explosions like rock mining, due to the mountain's geographic conditions. He claimed that the exploration would not affect the environment nor the area's security.

Tiep said: "If the provincial authorities approve the one-year extension proposal, I can surely find gold."

Le Tien Phuong, chairman of Binh Thuan People's Committee, said he will discuss the proposal with relevant agencies.

Tiep's license to hunt the treasure was first granted in 1994, it has been reissued several times since then.

In 2011, he had to submit VND500 million ($24,307) to the State Treasury as a deposit for the exploration and handling of environmental consequences.

According to Tiep, in 1957, he acquired information about the treasure, which was allegedly buried by Tomoyuki Yamashita, a famous general of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, on Tau Mountain in Phuoc The Commune, Tuy Phong District.

He said the treasure, including over 4,000 tons of gold, was war loot stolen by Japanese invaders from pagodas, banks and museums in countries they were then pillaging.

Tiep also claimed that many materials showed that before surrendering to the Allied forces in September 1945, Yamashita sent a fleet of 84 warships carrying gold to Ca Na Bay, located between Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan provinces.

Tran Phuong Hong, his youngest child among 11 children, said most of Tiep's children and grandchildren lead a comfortable life.

One of his sons, Tran Phuong Binh, is the CEO of the HCMC-based DongA Bank and his wife, Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, is general director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ).

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