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A tragic air balloon accident in Egypt Tuesday left 18 people, mostly tourists, dead. The crash was caused by an explosion before it plummeted to the ground.
According to CNN, the crash, which was the deadliest hot air balloon accident in 20 years, occurred in the city of Luxor. The balloon fell 300 meters (1,000 feet), the Egyptian Interior Ministry confirmed. Local media reported a gas explosion had been the cause.
There were 19 foreign tourists on board. A Luxor province spokesperson said that two Egyptian crewmembers were on board as well. Three British passengers have been hospitalized. However, The BBC notes that some reports suggest that two of the British tourists were killed and another remains hospitalized.
The U.K. Guardian reports that the accident has highlighted the dangers of riding in an Egyptian hot air balloon. There have been accidents in Egypt in 2006, 2008 and 2009. In 2009 alone, there were five accidents that injured 30 people. A member of the U.K. hot air ballooning industry told the publication that he’s seen “anecdotal evidence that standards in Egypt are not anything like they are here.”
CNN reports that Luxor’s Gov. Izzat Saad has banned hot air balloon travel in the city for now. A spokesman for the Egyptian government confirmed that they will investigate the incident.
This is the worst hot air ballooning accident since a 1989 accident in Australia killed 13.