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The luxor crash

On February 26, 2013, at 07:00 Egypt Standard Time (05:00 UTC), a hot air balloon crashed near Luxor, Egypt. The crash resulted in 19 deaths out of 21 passengers – 18 died on-site and one died from his wounds in the hospital a few hours later. It was the deadliest ballooning disaster in history, surpassing the 1989 Alice Springs hot air balloon crash in Australia.

Early on February 26, an Ultramagic N-425 balloon, registration SU-283, operated by Sky Cruise, departed on a sight-seeing flight carrying twenty passengers and a pilot.

According to a nearby balloon pilot, Mohamed Youssef, a fire started in the Sky Cruise balloon a few meters off the ground as it was attempting to land, possibly as a result of ground crew attempts to anchor the balloon. One source says that a mooring cable got wrapped around a gas cylinder.

The pilot and one passenger leaped to safety as the craft rose rapidly, aided by a wind gust. As the balloon rose, approximately seven passengers jumped from the balloon to escape the fire. At an altitude of approximately 300 meters (980 ft), there was an explosion, which could be heard several kilometers away.

One eyewitness stated that he heard "a huge bang. It was a frightening bang, even though it was several kilometers away" from his location. Youssef said it appeared that a gas leak in one of the balloon tanks caused the fire that resulted in the explosion, consistent with information reported in state-run media. Earlier reports had indicated that the balloon may have contacted a power line.

Two minutes later, the burning craft crashed into a sugar cane field west of Luxor. A second explosion was reported 15 seconds later. Ambulances arrived on the scene after 15 minutes. Bodies were scattered across the field when rescue workers arrived on the scene.The balloon’s final moments were caught on an amateur video.

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