Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Third Briton dies in balloon horror

The launch site near Luxor in Egypt prior to the accident (Christopher Michel/PA)
The launch site near Luxor in Egypt prior to the accident (Christopher Michel/PA)
Egyptians gather near the scene of the balloon crash outside al-Dhabaa village, west of Luxor (AP)
Rescue workers inspect the scene of the balloon crash outside al-Dhabaa village, west of the city of Luxor (AP)
Graphic locates Luxor in Egypt where a number of Britons are reportedly among tourists killed in a hot air balloon crash

A third Briton has died following the horrific hot air balloon crash in Egypt.

Tour operator Thomas Cook had earlier announced that two Britons had been killed and two more injured when the balloon plunged in flames to the ground in Luxor.

Shortly after 1pm on Tuesday the company said that one of the two injured Britons had since died. This took the total death toll to 19.

Later, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the tragic deaths of two British nationals and one British resident following a hot air balloon crash in Luxor, Egypt, earlier today.

"The next of kin have been informed and our thoughts are with them and their families at this difficult time. We are providing them with consular assistance. We can also confirm that one other British national was involved and is in a stable condition.

"We have had consular officials in Luxor since early this morning who have been focused on providing consular assistance and supporting the Egyptian authorities. Our Ambassador to Egypt has met the injured British national and has offered our assistance."

Witnesses described how they had seen tourists jumping from the balloon after it exploded at 1,000ft before crashing in fields. Bodies of the dead were scattered across the fields around the remnants of the balloon.

Thomas Cook said it was working with local officials and a full investigation would be taking place. "While this investigation is under way, Thomas Cook UK has temporarily suspended sales of hot air balloon rides in Egypt," the company added.

Thomas Cook UK has opened a hotline for concerned relatives who have guests in the resort - 0800 107 5638. The company has around 150 clients in the Luxor area at present. The company was not giving out any information about when the four Britons involved had started their holidays or what their package involved.

Konny Matthews, assistant manager of a Luxor's Al Moudira hotel, said she heard a boom at around 7am local time. She went on: "It was a huge bang. It was a frightening bang, even though it was several kilometres away from the hotel. Some of my employees said that their homes were shaking."

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