13 Asians among 19 dead in Egypt balloon crash

Featured Japan World - February 27th, 2013
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Four Japanese citizens and nine tourists from Hong Kong were among the fatalities in a hot air balloon crash in Egypt.

The hot air balloon crashed to Earth after catching fire and exploding over the ancient city of Luxor on Tuesday, killing at least 19 tourists, sources said.

The balloon, which was carrying 20 tourists and a pilot, was landing after a flight over the west bank of Luxor, one of Egypt’s most renowned archaeological sites, when a landing cable got caught around a helium tube and a fire erupted, according to an investigator.

The balloon shot up in the air then plunged some 300 meters into a sugar cane field.

At least 18 bodies were found among the charred remnants of the balloon. An Egyptian official identified the tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, Britain, France and Hungary.

According to AP, nine of the killed tourists were from Hong Kong and four from Japan. The French foreign ministry confirmed two of its nationals had died while the British Foreign Office only said that “a small number of British nationals” were involved in the tragic accident.

Three survivors – two British tourists and the Egyptian pilots – were taken to a local hospital. One of the Britons later died, bringing the total number of casualties to 19.

Luxor Governor Ezzat Saad imposed an immediate ban on all hot air balloon flights in the province as authorities ordered an investigation into the fatal crash, reports AFP.

The crash, one of the world’s deadliest ballooning accidents, comes amid widespread anger over safety standards in Egypt’s transportation.