A hot air balloon crash in Egypt has left at least 19 tourists dead. The balloon crashed after it caught fire and exploded mid-air.
Nineteen Asian and European tourists were killed Tuesday after a hot air balloon crashed in Egypt. Many of the passengers leaped to their deaths.
Ahmed Aboud, a spokesman for balloon operators in the area, told Reuters that a fire on board the balloon started in the pipe where the gas canisters linked to the burners. He termed the balloon’s ensuing explosion and crash as an accident.
The balloon’s pilot survived by jumping from the basket, Aboud told Reuters.
A doctor at the scene, Mohamed Mustafa, said the tourists died from burns and from the fall.
The balloon and passengers fell into a sugar cane field near Luxor, reported The Associated Press.
“I saw tourists catching fire and they were jumping from the balloon. They were trying to flee the fire but it was on their bodies,” farmer Hassan Abdel-Rasoul told AP.
Konny Matthews, the assistant manager for Luxor’s Al Moudira hotel, described the scene to Reuters.
“It was a huge bang. It was a frightening bang, even though it was several kilometers away from the hotel,” she said. “Some of my employees said that their homes were shaking.”
Luxor Governor Ezzat Saad told the news agency that the crash immediately killed 18 people. Two Britons and the pilot were rushed to the hospital, but one of the Britons died there after succumbing to injuries.
Among those killed include nine tourists from Hong Kong, four Japanese people, and two more Britons, Egyptian officials told AP.
The crash will likely put a damper on Egypt’s already-struggling tourism industry.
Over the past two years, tourism in Egypt has slumped due to political instability following the fall of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak’s regime, despite the country having immaculate ruins of the ancient Egyptian empire. Luxor, which is an ancient city, is the site of many temples and other ruins.
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