CAIRO - A hot air balloon crashed near the Egyptian town of Luxor on Tuesday, killing 19 tourists who were aboard, a spokesman for companies that operate balloon flights in the area told Reuters.
Spokesman Ahmed Aboud added that one tourist and the balloon pilot had survived the crash, which happened after a gas explosion at 1,000 feet (300 metres). He said the tourists were from a variety of countries but did not immediately have information on their nationalities.
"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 balloons in Luxor.
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. (Reporting by Tom Perry; editing by David Stamp) - Reuters