Nineteen tourists were killed when a hot air balloon crashed near Luxor, in Egypt, on Tuesday. The balloon exploded at around 1,000 feet in the air after having caught fire. It went down into a sugar cane field around 320 miles south of the capital Cairo, reports The Huffington Post.
"We are aware of the reports and we are making urgent inquiries with the authorities in Egypt," a spokesperson for the British Foreign Office said. A reporter present at the crash site said he saw eight bodies being put into body bags.
A spokesman for the companies responsible for the balloon flight, Ahmed Aboud, said the tourists were from a variety of countries. Aboud said, "There were 20 passengers aboard. An explosion happened and 19 passengers died. One tourist and the pilot survived."
Cherry Tohamy, an Egyptian who was in another balloon, said she heard an explosion and saw flames from a balloon above. She told the BBC, "Our pilot told us that the balloon had hit a high pressure electrical cable and a cylinder on board exploded. ... People were jumping out of the balloon from about the height of a seven-story building."
Among those killed are believed to be two Egyptians, two French, four Japanese and nine Hong Kong tourists. The two Britons who initially survived are thought to have jumped off the balloon to the ground as the fire started.
The tour operator was Thomas Cook. The company stated that it was going to fully investigate the fatal crash and taking the help of local officials to achieve this objective.
"While this investigation is under way, Thomas Cook UK has temporarily suspended sales of hot air balloon rides in Egypt," the company added.
No more details of those killed or injured were given by Thomas Cook UK. However, the company has provided a hotline number for relatives of the affected so that they can inquire about their loved ones. The number is 0800 107 563.
Thomas Cook has around 150 clients in Luxor.
In April 2009, some 16 people were injured when a balloon crashed during a tour of Luxor. It is believed that the balloon hit a mobile phone transmission tower near the banks of the Nile.