Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Balloon Crashes Near Luxor Killing 19 Tourists In Egypt

26 February 2013
Last updated at 02:34 ET

Balloon crashes near Luxor killing 19 tourists

Nineteen tourists, some of them British and French, are reported to have died in a hot air balloon crash near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor.

The balloon was flying at 1,000 ft (300m) when it caught fire and exploded, plunging onto fields west of Luxor, officials said.

Two people, including the balloon's pilot, reportedly survived the crash.

Luxor lies on the banks of the River Nile and is home to some of Egypt's most famous pharaonic-era ruins.

"There were 20 passengers aboard. An explosion happened and 19 passengers died. One tourist and the pilot survived," Ahmed Aboud, a representative of balloon firms in Luxor, told Reuters news agency.

The British foreign office told the BBC it was making urgent enquiries with its colleagues in Egypt to confirm reports of British casualties.

Hot air ballooning is a popular way for tourists to see Luxor's famous sites, such as Karnak temple and the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Luxor, like many other parts of Egypt, has seen a sharp downturn in visitor numbers since the uprising in early 2011 that forced long-time President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

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