A hot air balloon crash in Egypt has caused the death of 18 tourists, visiting from 6 foreign countries.The incident occurred on Tuesday in Luxor, 320 miles (510km) from the capital city of Cairo, The Guardian details. The crash has been caused by a gas explosion on board which wreaked havoc, with passengers plunging out of the balloon.
The same publication quotes a statement of the British Foreign Office, in which they explain that an investigation on the matter is underway.
“We are aware of reports of a balloon crash in Luxor and are making urgent inquiries,” it reads.
According to Luxor governor, Ezzat Saad, other victims of the crash are French, Belgian, Hungarian and Japanese citizens, as well as nine visitors from Hong Kong.
The explosion reportedly caused the balloon to catch flames and land abruptly in a sugar cane plantation outside al-Dhabaa village, in the proximity of Luxor.
The balloon has fallen from an altitude of 300 meters (984 feet), while it was carrying at least 21 people. The Egyptian pilot of the balloon and two British Nationals have been injured, and are currently treated at local hospitals, reports Stuff New Zealand.
The crash, heard at approximately 7 a.m., has been described by witnesses as a loud bang.
“It was a huge bang. It was a frightening bang, even though it was several km away from the hotel. [...] Some of my employees said that their homes were shaking,” assistant manager of Luxor's Al Moudira Hotel, Konny Matthews, told the press.
Al Jazeera describes the area as a world-famous archaeological site, home to Valley of the Kings and “the last place where tourists were really comfortable in coming.”
“So it comes as very bad news for the country, given the economic situation and Egypt's reliance on tourism,” reporter Sherine Tadros adds.