19 killed in Egypt hot air balloon crash
Three Britons are among 19 tourists that were killed in a hot air balloon crash near the city of Luxor yesterday.
The Foreign Office has confirmed that two British nationals and one British resident were killed, with another in a stable condition. The pilot is also being treated in hospital for severe burns.
BBC news reported that a gas canister exploded on board causing the balloon to fall 1000 feet into a field, west of Luxor.
Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Cook UK & Continental Europe, Peter Fankhauser, whose company the four Britons were travelling with, said: “What happened in Luxor…is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of everyone in Thomas Cook are with our guests, their family and friends”.
The Association for British Travel Agents (ABTA) has released a statement saying: “We understand that 21 people were on board the flight (including the pilot) and there have been 19 fatalities”.
ABTA confirmed that the Egyptian authorities have suspended all balloon excursions in Luxor pending an investigation of the incident.
This is not the first time that the safety of these tours has come under scrutiny. In April 2009, a balloon crashed into a mobile phone transmission tower injuring sixteen people and leading to a major overhaul of safety such as early morning flights being suspended for six months and pilots being given extra training with restrictions on the amount of balloons in the air.
Luxor has many temples and tombs, as well as many important burial sites such as the Valley of the Kings and the equally impressive Valley of The Queens, making hot air balloon rides a very popular way for tourists to experience views of the whole region.
The contact number setup by Thomas Cook UK for concerned relatives is 0800 107 5638.