EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

February 26, 2013

Balloon crash in Egypt's Luxor kills 19 tourists

LUXOR, Egypt (AP) — A hot air balloon carrying tourists over Egypt's ancient city of Luxor caught fire Tuesday, and some passengers trying to escape the flames leaped to their deaths before the craft crashed in a sugar cane field. At least 19 tourists were killed in one of the world's deadliest ballooning accidents.

The accident was a new blow to Egypt's tourism industry, which has been gutted by the country's turmoil the past two years. The southern city of Luxor, site of some of the most dramatic pharaonic temples, has been particularly hard hit, with empty hotels worsening the area's poverty.

After the early morning crash, authorities suspended hot air balloon flights, a popular tourist attraction here, while investigators worked to determine the cause. The crash raised accusations that authorities have let safety standards fall amid the political instability since the 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak — though the civil aviation chief insisted his ministry keeps stringent inspections of balloons.

The balloon was carrying 20 tourists — from France, Britain, Belgium, Hungary, Japan and Hong Kong — and an Egyptian pilot on a sunrise flight over Luxor, officials said.

According to initial indications, it was in the process of landing after 7 a.m. when a landing cable got caught around a helium tube and a fire erupted, according to an investigator with the state prosecutor's office.

The balloon then shot up in the air, the investigator said. The fire set off an explosion of a gas canister and the balloon plunged some 300 meters (1,000 feet) to the ground, according to an Egyptian security official. It crashed in a sugar cane field outside al-Dhabaa village just west of Luxor, 510 kilometers (320 miles) south of Cairo, the official said.

The official and the investigator spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Obama Asks Central American Leaders for Help Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Obama Advisor Skips House Hearing Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman
Latest World News
Today in History for July 26th Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Today in History for July 25th Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims
Photos of the Week