19 Killed in Hot Air Ballon Explosion in Egypt

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(CNN) — At least 19 tourists were killed when a hot air balloon exploded and fell from the sky in southern Egypt, authorities said.

A total of 21 people were in the balloon when it plummeted about 300 meters (almost 1,000 feet) in the city of Luxor, the interior ministry said. Two people were hospitalized.

A gas explosion caused the crash, according to the state-run EgyNews.

Balloon rides offering scenic aerial views of the Nile River and the ancient temples of Karnak and Hatshepsut are a popular tourist attraction in Luxor, about nine hours’ drive southeast of Cairo.

Passengers in the balloon included 19 foreign tourists: nine from Hong Kong, four from Japan, three from Britain, two from France and one from Hungary, officials said.

An Egyptian pilot and another Egyptian were also on board, Luxor province spokesman Badawi al-Masri said.

The catastrophe may be the deadliest hot air balloon accident in history.

In 1989, 13 people were killed when two hot air balloons collided in Australia.

The last hot air balloon accident in Luxor happened in 2009, when 16 people were injured from a balloon carrying primarily British tourists.