Death toll rises to 19 in Egypt's Luxor balloon accident

Death toll rises to 19 in Egypt
# 26 February 2013 19:19 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The death toll of Egypt's Luxor balloon accident rose to 19 Tuesday afternoon after a seriously- wounded English tourist died at Luxor International Hospital, Mohamed Sultan, head of Egypt's Ambulance Authority, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

"The other two injured people were transferred to Cairo. A Briton with an injury in the head was taken to Nasser Institute Hospital while an Egyptian with burns was transferred to Helmiya Military Hospital," Sultan added.

The 19 tourists were killed in a balloon explosion Tuesday in Egypt's Luxor governorate, around 670 km south of the capital Cairo.

"The tourists included nine from China's Hong Kong, four Japanese, two British, two French, one Egyptian and one Hungarian, " Abul Naga Abdel-Rady, head of the Luxor's Ambulance Authority, told Xinhua.

The balloon was carrying a total of 21 people, including a pilot, who reportedly managed to survive and was among the three injured, local media outlets said.

Eyewitnesses living near the accident scene said they were waken up in the early morning by the explosive sound and saw the balloon blazing in the air and charred dead bodies falling.

"When the fire hit the body of the balloon, burning material fell inside the passenger box and forced a number of tourists to jump outside the balloon and die due to the high distance," Ali Ahmed Ezz, a tour guide who witnessed the whole accident, told Xinhua.

Luxor governor Ezzat Saad has decided to suspend the business of balloons companies and ordered the companies to cancel all the arranged balloon trips. Prosecution in the governorate has started investigation into the accident.

The official al-Ahram online quoted a source in "Sky Cruise" company as saying that the hose attached to the gas tanks was cut while some workers were trying to tug the rope of the balloon during landing, which led to the explosion.

"After the hose had been cut, the tanks exploded, and the balloon rose up in the air for 400 meters and got ablaze with 19 tourists inside," the source added.

In 2009, a balloon impinged with a tower of mobile phone network on a building roof and fell down in the west bank of Nile River in Luxor, leaving 19 people injured.

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