KANCHANABURI (AFP): Six treasure hunters died in a cave in this western province as they searched for gold rumored to have been stashed there 50 years ago by defeated Japanese soldiers. Police in Sangkla Buri district said today that the four men and two women died after becoming trapped 50 meters into the narrow cave. “They died because of lack of oxygen because the cave is very small. With seven people in there, there’s not enough air to breathe,” said Lt Narawuth Kamwandee. The sole survivor in the party was a local ethnic Karen guide who was the last to enter the cave. As the oxygen ran low, he managed to escape and alerted police. Many villagers in the area believe the cave system hides a treasure trove of gold left there by Japanese soldiers as they retreated at the end of World War II. The “gold rush” started several years ago, and hit the headlines when a former minister, Chaowarin Lattsasakfiri, led a media group to the site in 1996, saying he was certain the treasure was there. However, after months of unsuccessful searching he admitted the story of the gold was probably just a fable.
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