Written by Matthew Harper. Media by Bobby Williams.
As anyone who’s ever been up in a hot air balloon can tell you, it’s a unique, fun experience. Sadly, this was not the case for tourists taking a hot air balloon trip near Luxor, Egypt. When an aerial tour of Luxor’s ancient temples took off, no one expected that 19 people would lose their lives in a tragic crash, including three tourists from Great Britain. The other victims were from Hong Kong, Japan, Hungary, Egypt, and France (Fox News), though few concrete details have been given by any of the involved nations at this time.
The balloon caught fire at around 1,000 feet and crashed to the west of Luxor. The pilot of the craft survived by jumping out when the balloon was closer to the ground, between 30 and 50 feet, according to BBC News. The pilot is lucky to have survived, but his body is covered in burns. Foul play has been ruled out in the crash, but questions will surely be directed towards the pilot of the balloon to find out just what could have led to the deadly crash.
The company responsible for the hot air balloon trip, Sky Cruise, claims that a gas cylinder exploded, causing the fire. People in the area heard something explode and looked up to see the balloon, in flames, descending quickly towards the ground near the temples the balloon had been touring. Luxor’s governor, Ezzat Saad, says that all balloon flights have been halted by order of the civil aviation minister, Wael el-Maadawi, as the government looks into what happened. In an interview with the BBC, he said he “wanted to send his condolences to the families of those killed and injured.”
This isn’t the first hot air balloon crash in the area, though it’s by far the most devastating. In 2009, 16 were injured when their hot air balloon crashed into a communications tower (BBC News). The new, deadly crash comes at a time when Egypt’s tourism industry is already suffering and this fatal incident is by no means expected to help matters. Tourism numbers have plummeted since the Muslim Brotherhood gained control of the nation, and, besides political matters, the country has been plagued with deadly accidents already as of late. According to Fox News, 49 kindergartners died when their bus was struck by a train due to a failing railing guard. Additionally, 19 conscripts died when their train derailed in January. Those conscripts were all Egyptian, but the accident made many question the safety of the country.