A team of treasure hunters say they are 'on the brink' of unearthing a huge haul of gold, jewels and ancient artefacts that could be worth a whopping £15 billion.
The Lemminkäinen Hoard would be the largest and most valuable treasure trove ever discovered and is believed to contain more than 50,000 gems, such as emeralds, sapphires and diamonds, as well as 1,000 artefacts dating back thousands of years, including several 18-carat gold life-sized statues.
The impressive haul is said to be lying somewhere within the massive Sibbosberg cave system 20 miles east of Finland's capital, Helsinki.
It's thought the trove is entombed in an underground temple in Sipoo, but despite countless explorations over the years no one has ever managed to find it.
But now, after 34 years and 100,000 hours of excavation a group started by 12 pals believe they're 'only metres' away from the treasure.
The 'penniless friends', dubbed the 'Temple Twelve', began searching back in 1987 and have dedicated their summers to finding the treasure ever since, dedicating six hours a day, seven days a week, to digging through the labyrinthine cave complex near Helsinki.
Historian and author Carl Borgen, 60, the world's leading authority on the Lemminkäinen Hoard, has chronicled the lives of the Temple Twelve and their bounty in his book Temporarily Insane.
Speaking from his home in Amsterdam, Holland, he said: "I understand that significant progress at the temple has been made and that the crew are feeling especially excited about the months ahead.
"There is now talk in the camp of being on the brink of a major breakthrough, which in real terms could be the discovery of the world's largest and most valuable treasure trove.
"So far, the Temple Twelve, as they have become known, have been able to remove several huge square granite rocks blocking the entrance to the cave, and have cleared the cave of hundreds of tonnes of smaller rocks and sediment.
"I spoke to them only last week and it is now their strong belief that, after more than 34 years of digging, they are now within metres of the temple entrance."
The original team of 24 'like-minded strangers' - 12 men and 12 women - joined forces with Bock in 1987 to become the site's first and only permanent, self-funded excavation team.
Remarkably, 34 years after excavations first commenced, two of the original 24 remain despite at least half of the group having died or retired.
And when digging resumes next year, the team are confident they will get into the cave entrance between May and September.
Featured Image Credit: SWNS
Topics: World News, Interesting