A hot air balloon has crashed near the Egyptian town of Luxor
at dawn after a mid-air gas explosion, killing 19 Asian and
European tourists, a local industry official and the state
news agency said.
Ahmed Aboud, a spokesman for balloon operators in the area,
told Reuters that one tourist and the pilot had survived the
crash, which followed the blast at 1000 feet (300 metres).
The dead were from Britain, France, Japan and Hong Kong, the
state news agency MENA reported, citing a security source.
"There were 20 passengers aboard. An explosion happened and
19 passengers died. One tourist and the pilot survived," he
said by telephone.
Aboud is the representative of eight companies that operate
balloon flights in Luxor, near ancient Egyptian sites in the
famed Valley of the Kings.
Konny Matthews, assistant manager of Luxor's Al Moudira
hotel, said she heard a boom around 7am (local time).
"It was a huge bang. It was a frightening bang, even though
it was several kilometres away from the hotel," she said by
phone. "Some of my employees said that their homes were
The accident happened over the west bank of the Nile river.
Hot air ballooning at dawn is popular with tourists who go to
Luxor to visit its pharaonic temples and the tombs of the
Valley of the Kings, including in Tutankhamen's.
Egypt's tourism industry has suffered a sharp downturn in
visitor numbers since the 2011 uprising that toppled
President Hosni Mubarak, with two years of political
instability scaring off foreign tourists