Tran Van Tiep (R) at the site of Tau Mountain in June 2014. Photo: Que Ha
A 101-year-old Ho Chi Minh City man’s decade-long search for 4,000 tons of gold he believes was buried in a mountain by Japanese invaders over 50 years ago has finally come to an end.
Authorities in the south-central province of Binh Thuan announced last week that Tran Van Tiep's license to dig for the hidden treasure on the Tau Mountain in Tuy Phong District expired on January 1 and ordered him to cease his search.
They also asked those hired to assist him to restore the mountain to its original condition.
The Binh Thuan government officially licensed the search in October 2011 and has renewed his license five times since.
From January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014, Tiep and his employees used 1,890 kilograms of explosives and 372 drills in their search, which yielded nothing of value.
On November 15, they discovered a 6-meter-wide cavern they suspected to be the mouth of an underground cave, but it later turned out to be a natural slit formed millions of years ago.
Tiep began his search for the treasure in 1993, though he claims he acquired information about the treasure in 1957. He believes the gold was 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 says the still-hidden treasure trove contains over 4,000 tons of gold stolen by Japanese forces from pagodas, banks and museums throughout Asia.
The man also claimed many materials showed that before surrendering to the Allied forces in September 1945, Yamashita sent a fleet of 84 warships loaded with the gold to Ca Na Bay, between Binh Thuan and neighboring Ninh Thuan province.