Tuesday, February 26, 2013

► EGYPT: Sky Cruise hot air balloon explodes in mid flight over Luxor; 19 dead.

EgyptA hot air balloon belonging to Sky Cruise - Egyptian Airship & Balloon Co. of Luxor, this morning burst into flames in mid air, before plummeting to the ground killing 19 tourists who were on-board. Two passengers - the balloon pilot and a tourist  - were said to have survived, but have sustained serious burns and have been taken to a local hospital in Luxor, about 450km south of Cairo.

A similar flight just prior to the accident in Luxor
A similar flight just prior to the accident in Luxor (KimberlyAdams)
Reports state that there was a fire followed by an explosion which caused the balloon to plunge roughly 300 metres from the sky and crash into sugar cane fields on the west bank of the Nile:
There were 20 passengers aboard. An explosion happened and 19 passengers died. One tourist and the pilot survived,” Spokesman Ahmed Aboud said by telephone. Aboud is the representative of eight companies that operate balloons in Luxor.
Source [In2EastAfrica]

The pilot and one of the tourists survived by jumping out of the basket before it plunged to the ground.

Authorities were greeted with a grizzly scene on arrival with bodies of the dead tourists scattered across the field around the remnants of the balloon. 

Ezzat Saad, the governor of Luxor province, has imposed an immediate ban on all hot-air balloon flights in the province as Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil ordered an investigation into the accident.