21 people were riding in the balloon when it suffered an explosion causing the apparatus to go down in a farming field, not far from the historic Valley of the Kings, which holds the final resting places of Egyptian pharaohs.
Egyptian Health Minister Mohamed Mostafa Hamed said that only one of those dead was from the North African country, the others were tourists from Japan, China, Hungary, France, and Britain. Some on the balloon tried to jump to safety but failed. “People were jumping out of the balloon from about the height of a seven-storey building,” noted an eyewitness. The pilot however managed to survive by jumping out of the balloon closer to landfall.
Two British survivors were taken to a hospital, but one passed away. Those injured, including the pilot, suffered internal bleeding and multiple fractures.
Gov. Izzat Saad of the Luxor province has since suspended all hot air balloon flights in the area, until further notice.
As it stands, the Egyptian crash is the deadliest in the world over the last 20 years, but marks the second time in less than five years that a hot air balloon accident has taken place in the country. In 2009, 16 tourists were injured when a balloon hit a cellphone tower.
See photos below.
Photos: AP/Reuters/AFP/Christopher Micel