Luxor halts hot-air balloon rides after two tourists are injured

Egypt's civil aviation ministry said the incident occurred when a hot air balloon carrying 28 tourists veered off course and collided with another

A hot-air balloon flies over the mortuary temple of Ramsis III at Medinet Habu on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor. AP Photo
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Hot air balloon rides over the historic Egyptian city of Luxor were suspended on Monday after two tourists sustained minor injuries when the cloth of one balloon was ripped during a ride.

The country’s civil aviation ministry said in a statement that a balloon carrying 28 passengers was blown off course by strong winds early on Monday morning. After losing its stability, the balloon eventually landed.

Videos of the incident on social media showed most of the passengers on board getting off the balloon as panicked rescuers secured it in place. Two tourists sustained minor injuries and were quickly taken to hospital, the aviation ministry said.

The ministry’s statement did not disclose the nationalities of the injured tourists or give any details as to the nature of their injuries.

Preliminary investigations determined that the incident occurred because of varying wind speeds, between when the balloon was on the ground and when it was airborne.

The incident happened when the balloon was at an altitude of 60 metres, the ministry said, at which height the wind blew at a speed of seven knots, or about 13 kilometres an hour, as opposed to its three-knot (5 kph) speed on the ground. The balloon collided with another which caused its parachute to tear, according to the ministry's statement.

Egyptian rescuers search through the wreckage of a hot air balloon that crashed west of Luxor.

Rides have been halted, the ministry said, and an investigation has begun to determine exactly how the incident happened.

Hot air balloon rides are among Luxor’s most popular tourist activities as many like to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city’s Pharaonic temples.

Balloon accidents are not uncommon in the city, where a hot-air balloon crash killed 19 tourists in 2013.

In another incident in 2009, 16 tourists sustained injuries when the balloon they were in veered off course and collided with a cell phone tower.

Seven tourists were injured when another balloon had a similar collision the year before.

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Updated: July 18, 2022, 1:22 PM
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