Two hot air balloons collided in mid-air during a sightseeing tour of volcanic rock formations in Turkey and crashed to the ground today, killing two Brazilian tourists and injuring 23 other people on board. The accident occurred above central Turkey's Cappadocia region, when an ascending balloon struck another balloon's wicker basket above it, causing a tear in the balloon's fabric and sending it plunging to the ground. A tourist who witnessed the accident from another balloon said the crash occurred some 45 minutes after as many as 100 balloons had taken off for the early morning tour.
"We could hear the radio chatter and we knew something was happening. There was a frantic urgent transmission: 'Release your parachute! Release your parachute!'" he recalls. "[The balloon] was probably some 300 meters in the air and it descended increasingly rapidly to the ground. There was a large tear in the fabric, probably some 10 to 15 meters long." The owner of the tour company says it appeared that one of the tourists had died of a heart attack; an official says the second person died in hospital. They were aged 71 and 65. The passengers on board the balloon that crashed were mostly tourists from Brazil, Argentina, and Spain; many had fractured bones. (Read more hot air balloon stories.)