19 Foreign Tourists Killed in Egypt Balloon Fireball

A hot air balloon carrying foreign tourists caught fire and crashed near the Egyptian city of Luxor, killing 19 people, officials said Tuesday. A spokesman for balloon operators in the area said gas tanks caught fire and ignited the balloon at about 1,000 feet, but eyewitnesses gave a different account. That eyewitness said a landing rope was thrown to people on the ground when it was just 12 feet in the air, and as they grabbed it, it wrapped around and broke a gas container, sparking the fire just before the balloon shot more than 1,500 feet into the air. He said eight tourists and the captain jumped off as it was going up, and another witness told Al Jazeera he balloon was "like a fireball when it went up." Luxor International Hospital received 19 severely burned bodies. One of the victims was Egyptian, a health official told Reuters, while the others were from Japan, China, France, Britain and Hungary. There were no U.S. citizens among the victims, a U.S. Embassy spokesperson said.

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