Hot Air Balloon Accident Kills 18 in Egypt

In southeast Egypt, 18 tourists were killed on Tuesday after the hot air balloon they were riding in exploded and crashed on the ground, said authorities. The accident was killed more people that any air balloon accident in over 20 years.

At the time of the accident 21 people were on the balloon as it fell over 1,000 feet, in Luxor, said the interior ministry in Egypt.

Four people were still missing, while three were sent to an area hospital. Originally, the ministry said that 19 tourists had lost their lives, but revised the number later.

Officials said the crash had been caused by a gas explosion aboard the balloon.

Balloon rides are very popular in the area offering panoramic views of places like the Nile and the temples of Hatshepsut and Karnak. Luxor is located nine hours by car southeast of the capital of Cairo.

The passengers on board included nine from Hong Kong, four Japanese, three Britons, two French and one Hungarian. Also on board were a pilot and passenger from Egypt.

The last time an accident in a hot air balloon took place was in 2009. At that time, 16 tourists were hurt when a balloon hit a transmission tower for cellular communications.

Prior to the accident on Tuesday, the deadliest hot air balloon accident recently took place over 24 years ago. In that accident, 13 were killed when a collision between two balloons took place in Australia.

A spokesman for the Egyptian government said a committee would be set up to investigate the accident and its cause.

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