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Expedition Believes It Discovered Lost City in Honduras

May 11, 1985

LONDON (AP) _ A team of young explorers may have discovered the remains of a legendary lost city in the jungles of Honduras, the British domestic news agency Press Association said.

The news agency Friday quoted Col. John Blashford-Snell, the British director of operations for Operation Raleigh, as saying the ruins are believed to be those of the Payan civilization’s ″Cuidad Blanca″ - or White City.

Operation Raleigh, launched last year, is a four-year around-the-world expedition in honor of the 16th century British explorer Sir Walter Raleigh. It was designed for people between the ages of 17 and 24.

″There have been legends about the city for years but the jungle is just so rough that no one has been able to pinpoint it exactly,″ Blashford-Snell was quoted as saying.

″We sent patrols out to the most likely areas and this one made the discovery. It was a very tough, difficult job and they deserve a lot of credit. Over the coming weeks our scientists will be mapping the city and obtaining as much information as they can,″ he was quoted as saying.

The organization’s London headquarters said in a statement Friday night: ″The relative importance of this discovery cannot be confirmed until proper archeological surveys have been made by those with the expedition from the Honduras Institute of Anthropology and History and the Operation Raleigh archeologists.″

But the British news agency, whose reporter Martin White is accompanying the expedition, said it is being heralded ″as potentially one of the most exciting archeological finds in the area for years.″

The Payas are an Indian tribe living on the Patuca River in northeastern Honduras. Formerly, they are believed to have occupied part of Honduras’ northern coast, and some scientists believe they and their neighbors the Jicaque formed the northern frontier of South Amrican penetration in Central America.

Blashford-Snell, speaking in Panama City, told Press Association that the vegetation-covered site measured 11/2 square miles, and was dominated by what is believed to be a 40 foot-wide sacrificial altar.

Stone axes, decorated pottery, ceremonial rocks and other stone structures also were discovered, he said.

Blashford-Snell was quoted as saying the discovery, in a remote area inland from the mosquito-ridden coast of Honduras, was made by a seven-member patrol from Operation Raleigh.

Press Association did not identify the members of the patrol that discovered the ruins.

Blashford-Snell was quoted as saying the patrol’s return journey was even more difficult than the discovery of the city. Two members of the patrol developed dysentry, two developed severe problems with their feet and there were fears that they would run out of food.

They managed to return exhausted to the base camp near the coast after covering about 62 miles.

Of the 4,000 places in Operation Raleigh, 1,500 each have gone to youths from the United States and Britain, with the other 1,000 split among 38 other countries.

Participants are traveling and working under the supervision of a volunteer staff of scientists, explorers and military personnel.

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