Gas explosion caused a Hot air balloon to plunge uncontrolled as about 19 tourists of different nationalities were killed in Luxor. Surprisingly, the pilot of hot air balloon and another passenger who managed to jump out of the balloon survived the accident.
A hot air balloon has crashed near the Egyptian town of Luxor killing 19 tourists who were aboard. One tourist and the balloon pilot have survived the crash, according to the firm which operates the flights.
The victims are said to be from Britain, France and Japan among other countries.
It is believed the accident happened after a gas explosion at 300 metres.
The accident happened over the west bank of the Nile river. Hot air ballooning at dawn is popular with tourists who go to Luxor to visit its pharaonic temples and the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, including in Tutankhamen’s.
Cherry Tohamy’s balloon was landing when she heard an explosion and saw flames from a balloon above.
“Our pilot told us that the balloon had hit a high pressure electrical cable and a cylinder on board exploded,” said Ms Tohamy, an Egyptian living in Kuwait who was on holiday in Luxor.
“People were jumping out of the balloon from about the height of a seven-storey building.”
She said ambulances were at the scene within 15 minutes.
Another witness, US photographer Christopher Michel said his balloon was just about to land when he “heard an explosion and saw smoke”.
Hot air balloon crashes have happened in Luxor before. Two British women were among 16 injured when their balloon came down after hitting a communications tower in April 2009.
Linda Lea: “It brought back all the mayhem and horrific events of that day”.
Balloons were grounded for six months after that crash while safety measures were tightened up and pilots were re-trained by Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority.
But, says the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Cairo, since the 2011 revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, the rule of law is not being respected in many aspects of Egyptian life, so it has been difficult for the tourism ministry to impose its authority on sites like this.
Luxor, like many other parts of Egypt, has seen a sharp downturn in visitor numbers since the uprising.