South African tourist killed as hot-air balloon crash-lands in Egypt

South African tourist killed as hot-air balloon crash-lands in Egypt
File image.

A hot-air balloon on a sightseeing trip over the southern Egyptian city of Luxor crash-landed on Friday, killing a tourist from South Africa and injuring seven other people.

Officials said the incident was caused by strong winds that forced the balloon, which was carrying 20 tourists, off course above the ancient city, home to some of Egypt's most remarkable historic temples and tombs.

The balloon took off shortly before sunrise and flew about 45 minutes at an altitude of 1,476ft (450m) before the pilot lost control due to the strong wind, forcing a crash-landing in a mountainous area, the officials said.

The officials said the dead tourist was South African, but no details were immediately available on the nationalities of the other victims. The remaining 12 tourists were unhurt.

Other balloons had taken off around the same time but landed safely, the officials added.

Earlier in the day, Egypt's meteorological service had warned of strong winds across the country, mainly in the Nile River delta and northern Egypt.

There have been other incidents involving hot-air balloons over ancient Luxor.

The deadliest happened in 2013 when a balloon flying over the city caught fire and plunged about 1,000ft (305m) to the ground, crashing into a sugar cane field and killing at least 19 foreign tourists.

In 2016, Egypt temporarily halted balloon flights after 22 Chinese tourists suffered minor injuries in a crash-landing.

Over the years, Egypt has tightened safety rules for balloon rides, which are now monitored by cameras and banned from flying above 2,000m (6,562ft).

Hot-air balloon flights above Luxor are famous among tourists because of the spectacular views of the ancient Karnak and other temples.

Such flights usually start before sunrise and pass over green fields leading to the Valley of the Kings - the burial site of famous boy king Tutankhamun and other pharaohs.

Egypt's vital but ailing tourism industry, partially driven by sightseeing, has been hit hard by extremist attacks and political turmoil following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

In 2015, tourism was dealt a blow when the Islamic State group's affiliate in Egypt downed a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

Egypt never officially said what caused the Russian aircraft but IS said it blew up the plane with a bomb smuggled on board.

After that attack, Russia imposed a ban on all flights to Egypt and Egypt's national carrier is still barred from flying to Russia.

Since then, the Egyptian government has been trying to draw tourists back to the country by announcing ancient discoveries and tightening security measures around tourist sites.


More in this Section

UK Election debate live: Corbyn and Johnson go head-to-headUK Election debate live: Corbyn and Johnson go head-to-head

Former UK PMs John Major and Tony Blair share platform to oppose BrexitFormer UK PMs John Major and Tony Blair share platform to oppose Brexit

15 killed after shooting in Baghdad square15 killed after shooting in Baghdad square

C-section births not linked to obesity in children, scientists sayC-section births not linked to obesity in children, scientists say


As we wait, eager and giddy, a collective shudder of agitated ardor ripples through the theatre, like a Late, Late Toyshow audience when they KNOW Ryan’s going to give them another €150 voucher. Suddenly, a voice booms from the stage. Everyone erupts, whooping and cheering. And that was just for the safety announcement.Everyman's outstanding Jack and the Beanstalk ticks all panto boxes

Every band needs a Bez. In fact, there’s a case to be made that every workplace in the country could do with the Happy Mondays’ vibes man. Somebody to jump up with a pair of maracas and shake up the energy when things begin to flag.Happy Mondays create cheery Tuesday in Cork gig

More From The Irish Examiner