A Polish official said on Friday that he has seen a radar image seeming to prove the discovery of a train that was hidden in a secret tunnel by the Nazis in southwestern Poland.
Two men have previously claimed to have discovered the train rumored to contain art works, gold, precious stones or other valuables that may have been stolen from Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski confirmed that he has seen a blurred image from a ground-penetrating radar showing the shape of a train, making him "more than 99 percent certain that this train exists," the Associated Press reported.
However, "we will be 100 percent sure only when we find the train," Zuchowski said.
Treasure hunters have for decades been searching for the train, which is believed to have disappeared near the city of Wroclaw, in an unfinished Nazi-built tunnel complex. Polish authorities and recovery groups are reportedly treating the possible discovery seriously.
“The Nazis were notorious plunderers of art, cultural property and other valuables,” Mary Kate Cleary of the London-based Art Recovery Group told CTV News. “They would engage in a systematic campaign to dispossess particularly Jewish communities and other enemies of the Nazi regime of their property.”
"To the extent that any items now being discovered in Poland may have been stolen from Jews before they were sent to death, concentration or forced labor camps, it is essential that every measure is taken to return the property to its rightful owners or to their heirs," said World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer in a statement.
"We very much hope that the Polish authorities will take the appropriate action in that respect," he said.
Meanwhile, the two men claiming to have discovered the train, one German and the other Polish, have reportedly hired legal representatives and are requesting 10 percent of the value of the train’s property in return for sharing its location with authorities.
Local authorities are also determining a safe way of accessing the train due to concerns that it could be booby-trapped with explosives, or located in an underground location where methane gas could make any explosion much worse.