19 Dead In Balloon Crash In Egypt: What Caused The Hot Air Explosion? [PHOTOS] [VIDEO]
According to initial reports from officials in Egypt, 19 foreign tourists were killed in Luxor, Egypt, on Tuesday in a fiery hot air balloon crash.
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The casualties from the accident include French, British, Belgium, Chinese and Japanese nationals. No Americans are thought to have been involved.
A total of 20 passengers were aboard the hot air balloon, operated by Egypt's Sky Cruise, when it suddenly ignited and burst into a raging ball of flame. The balloon was 1,000 feet in the air when the incident occurred. The violent blast caused as many as nine passengers to leap from the basket and plummet to their deaths in the sugar cane field below.
"There were 20 passengers aboard. An explosion happened and 19 passengers died. One tourist and the pilot survived," said Ahmed Aboud, a spokesman for balloon flight companies in the area.
"I saw a fire in the balloon's basket. Due to the fire, the balloon lost [altitude]," said Moustafa. "It was out of control. It jerked up and dropped down again 30 metres. There were some people jumping from the balloon and falling into the sugar cane fields before it crashed."
Moustafa works for the travel company that organized the hot air balloon.
"I know the pilot -- he's a good pilot. The problem wasn't him, it was the balloon -- what could he do? Everyone in our company is shocked and very sad about what's happened."
The pilot who survived the accident was Egyptian. First responders brought the pilot to the hospital to treat severe burns over 70 percent of his body.
The nationality of the sole surviving tourist is unclear. While a number of publications report that the survivor is one of three from Britain, Daily Mail claims all three Britons died from severe injuries from the accident. Nine aboard were Chinese from Hong Kong, four Japanese, two Belgian, three British, and two from France.
Tourist Cherry Tohamy was flying in another balloon when she witnessed the disaster.
"Our pilot told us that the balloon had hit a high pressure electrical cable and a cylinder on board exploded," Tohamy said.
The actual cause of the accident is unclear. Reports also suggest that the hose attached to the gas cylinder was cut when workers were tugging on the balloon during landing. A rupture in the tank ignited the giant ball of flame.
Early reports suggest the accident may be the deadliest hot air balloon accident in history. In 1989, 13 tourists were killed when two hot air balloons collided in Australia.
The video and images shown below are the graphic aftermath of the tragic accident in Luxor, Egypt. Viewer's discretion is advised.
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