Balloon Ride Turned Deadly Just Seconds From Landing

Disaster believed to be deadliest balloon crash in history

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 27, 2013 1:33 AM CST | Updated Feb 27, 2013 6:19 AM CST

(Newser) – Egyptian authorities have ordered all hot-air balloons grounded while the crash that killed 19 tourists in Luxor yesterday is investigated. The ban came as more details emerged about the crash that is believed to be the deadliest in ballooning history, the BBC reports. Witnesses say the balloon was seconds from landing when a gas fire broke out. The pilot, engulfed in flames, jumped out when the balloon was about 10 feet from the ground, the Guardian reports. Another tourist, the only other person to survive, leaped out before the balloon shot back up in the air to a height of around 1,000 feet and then fell to the ground.

As the burning balloon rose, "people were jumping out of the balloon from about the height of a seven-story building," a witness who was in another balloon tells the BBC. The victims include nine tourists from Hong Kong, four Japanese nationals, two British, two French, one Egyptian, and a Hungarian, Egyptian authorities say. Investigators say they haven't determined whether human error or a maintenance problem caused the crash, which is expected to further damage the country's already ailing tourist industry.

In this combo made from images from amateur video provided by Al-Jazeera, smoke pours from a hot air balloon over Luxor, Egypt.   (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera)
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