• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Two French killed in Egypt balloon tragedy

AFP/The Local · 26 Feb 2013, 09:16

Published: 26 Feb 2013 09:16 GMT+01:00

The balloon carrying 21 people was flying at 300 metres (1,000 feet) when it caught fire, a security official said.

Security services cordoned off the scene of the crash in Luxor's dense sugar cane fields, as police and residents inspected the charred remains of the balloon.

The balloon had been floating over the west bank of Luxor, one of Egypt's most renowned archaeological sites and home to the famous Valley of the Kings and the grand Temple of Hatshepsut, when it exploded.

An Egyptian security official said 19 tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, Britain, France and Hungary had died in the crash.

Luxor Governor Ezzat Saad imposed an immediate ban on all hot air balloon flights in the province as Prime Minister Hesham Qandeel ordered an investigation into the accident.

Two French tourists were confirmed dead, the French foreign ministry said.

"I can confirm that sadly two of our citizens died in this accident," French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said in Paris. "We are in contact with their families."

A British tour company said that two of its guests had also died in the crash.

"We can confirm that two of our guests are in local hospitals, but tragically two of our guests have died in the hot air balloon incident in Luxor, Egypt this morning," the company said in a statement.

Nine Hong Kong people and two Japanese were thought to be among the 19 killed.

"We believe that there is a high possibility that nine of our customers have died," said Raymond Ng, general manager of travel agency Kuoni, which organised the Hong Kongers' tour.

The five women and four men were aged between 33 and 62, Ng told a news conference in Hong Kong. Their relatives were to fly to Cairo later on Tuesday via Qatar, accompanied by three staff from Kuoni, he added.

The nine were among a group of 15 Hong Kongers who had left for Egypt on February 22. Ng said that according to local employees, the balloon caught fire about an hour after it had set off, plummeting to the ground two minutes later.

Story continues below…

An employee at the company operating the balloon, Sky Cruise, said the pilot and one tourist survived by jumping out of the basket before it hit the ground. Both were taken to hospital.

"This is terrible, just terrible," the employee told AFP by telephone, declining to give her name. "We don't yet know what happened exactly or what went wrong," she said.

French hot air ballon expert Philippe Buron-Pilatre de Rozier said the blast could have been caused by a leak after a spark caused by a lighter or a cigarette.

Another reason could be wear and tear due to poor maintenance or if the pilot is badly positioned, said Buron-Pilatre de Rozier, adding that hot air balloons such as the ones used in Egypt are generally 40 metres (130 feet) high and can carry up to 25 passengers.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
13 injured in Welsh bus accident in France
The bus ended on its side in a ditch. Two helicopters were dispatched to the site. Photo: AFP

Thirteen people were injured, three of them seriously, when a bus carrying teenagers from Wales tipped over on a motorway in eastern France on Saturday, the local gendarmerie said.

Libya armed groups urge fight against French troops
Dozens of protesters rallied Friday outside the GNA’s former headquarters in a Tripoli navy base. Photo: AFP

Armed groups including Islamists have urged Libyans to mobilise against French and other foreign troops deployed in the country, denouncing their presence as a “blatant aggression”.

EgyptAir flight broke up midair after fire: report
The Airbus A320 was en route from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean. Photo: AFP

An EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean in May likely broke up in midair after a fire erupted in or near the cockpit, the New York Times has reported.

IMF boss Lagarde to stand trial over $400 million payout
Lagarde will be the third successive IMF chief to face trial. Photo: AFP

IMF chief Christine Lagarde was ordered Friday to stand trial in France over a massive state payout to a colourful tycoon when she was French economy minister, dealing a setback to her stellar career.

Hollande defends minister under fire over Nice attack
The Nice assault was the third major attack on French soil in the past 18 months. Photo: AFP

French President Francois Hollande on Friday defended his government from accusations it relaxed its anti-terror defences after the Euro championships, and announced plans to arm the fight against the Islamic State group which claimed the Nice attack.

Why was Nice ordered to delete CCTV images of attack?
Photo: AFP

The fact that city authorities in Nice were asked to delete images of the truck attack has only given weight to those criticizing the government.

Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Photo: Runs With Scissors/Flickr

Struggling to learn French? Here are some free and easy ways to help you conquer the language once and for all.

32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
Photo: Tatyana A./Flickr

How many of these have you committed?

France to supply Iraq artillery as it steps up fight against Isis
Photo: AFP

France is stepping up its battle against Isis in the Middle East.

How to show solidarity with France? Don’t cancel your trip
Photo: AFP

The best way to show fraternity with France after the latest terror attack is not on Facebook or Twitter, but by coming to visit.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
'Very Stupid' village in France honoured for its silly name
Travel
Ten crazy things to do in France if you dare
Society
Paris: an obstacle course for wheelchair users
Brits ignore Brexit fears to make dream move to France
2,763
jobs available