Sierra Leone pastor discovers 706-carat diamond in village

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — A pastor in Sierra Leone has discovered the largest uncut diamond found in more than four decades in this West African country and has turned it over to the government, saying he hopes it helps to boost recent development in his impoverished nation.

Pastor Emmanuel Momoh found the 706-carat alluvial diamond in Yakadu village in Sierra Leone's diamond-rich east, and it was presented to President Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday, said presidential spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay.

The gem, a bit smaller than a hockey puck, is the second largest diamond found in Sierra Leone. In 1972, the 968.9-carat Star of Sierra Leone was found by miners and sold for about $2.5 million.

Momoh told The Associated Press that he turned in the diamond because he was touched by the development being undertaken in Kono District, where the gem was found. He cited road construction and improvements to electricity after almost 30 years of blackouts.

"I believe the government can do more, especially at a time when the country is undergoing some economic challenges," he said.

Sierra Leone's diamond wealth fueled a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002. Despite its mineral wealth, the country remains one of the poorest in the world.

It was not immediately clear how the pastor came across the diamond.


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The president expressed appreciation that there was no attempt to smuggle the gem out of the country, and encouraged others to emulate the pastor's example. He promised the diamond would be sold to the highest bidder and whatever is due to the owner and government would be distributed accordingly.

Hoard of gold found stashed inside piano

LONDON — British officials are trying to trace the owner of a trove of gold coins worth a "life-changing" amount of money found stashed inside a piano.

The gold coins, made between 1847 and 1915, are part of a hoard that was discovered hidden in an upright piano in Shropshire, central England.
The gold coins, made between 1847 and 1915, are part of a hoard that was discovered hidden in an upright piano in Shropshire, central England. (Peter Reavill / Trustees of the British Museum)

A coroner investigating the find on Thursday urged anyone with information to come forward.

When the piano's owners took it to be tuned last year in Shropshire, central England, it was found to contain a hoard of gold sovereigns minted between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries.

Investigators have determined that the piano was built in London in 1906 and sold to a pair of piano teachers in Saffron Walden, eastern England. They are seeking information on its ownership before 1983.

Anyone wanting to make a claim has until April 20, when coroner John Ellery will conclude his inquest.

If the gold's owner or heirs cannot be traced, it will be declared treasure, and the piano's current owners will reap the reward.

Officials have not disclosed how much the coins are worth. Peter Reavill, who assesses finds for the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme, said "it's a hoard of objects which is potentially life-changing for somebody to receive."

Associated Press