A hot-air balloon carrying tourists caught fire and crashed killing 19 people in Egypt on Tuesday. When the balloon caught fire some of the tourists leaped to their death trying to get away from the flames. According to the BBC News on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, people leaped out of the balloon when it was as high off the ground as a seven-story building.
The balloon was taking tourist’s aerial sightseeing over the village of al-Dhabaa and while the balloon was coming in for a landing it experienced a gas leak. Another balloon pilot close to the balloon that caught fire said the pilot and another passenger leaped to safety when the balloon was about 10 feet off the ground, which affected the balance of the balloon causing it to rise at a rapid rate.
When the pilot and passenger jumped from the balloon this sent more heat into the “envelope” and the balloon started to rise rapidly. It was then some of the other passengers started jumping, but by then they were too far off the ground to land safely. They jumped to their death at about the height of a seven-story building. The pilot survived this horrific ordeal, but 19 died from either jumping or perishing in the fiery crash.
According to Fox News live Tuesday afternoon, this could be the worst hot-air balloon disaster in history. They also report that there were 20 tourists on board the balloon that caught fire, which means only one tourist survived. According to the BBC, it was the tourist who jumped with the pilot that survived. Both the pilot and the one survivor are in the hospital with severe burns, according to Fox News live.
Officials in Luxor have banned all hot-air balloon flights as a result of this horrific accident. An investigator for the state’s prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press today that while the balloon was attempting to land a cable got caught around a helium tub and a fire broke out. The balloon quickly gained altitude before the gas on board caused it to explode. It fell to the ground, landing in a sugar cane field.