Sunday, January 07, 2018

Sindbad Balloons: Fatal accident occurred January 05, 2018 in Luxor, Egypt

Egyptian prosecutors have ordered the detention of four people over the hot air balloon crash that killed a South African tourist and injured at least 12 others, including a number of New Zealanders.

The arrests include the balloon's pilot, the director of the airport from which it took off in western Luxor and two officials from the balloon-owning company.

Four Kiwis were onboard the hot air balloon when it crashed. The balloon plummeted to the ground near the ancient city of Luxor on Friday night (NZ time), after strong winds forced it off course, according to local officials.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the New Zealand embassy in Cairo is providing consular assistance to the Kiwis involved in the incident.

The Ministry said none of them were seriously injured.

The arrested suspects were to remain in custody for at least four days while the authorities conduct an investigation into the accident, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

Seven Australians, four French nationals, two South Africans, two Argentinians and a Brazilian were also among those injured.

The mother of one of the Australians on board says the pilot was knocked out while the balloon was in the air.

Zoe Drinkwater from Newcastle was one of the passengers, according to the Seven Network, who spoke to her mother on Saturday.

"As they were coming in to land there was a big gust of wind that came up which then consequently knocked out the pilot," Lainie Drinkwater said.

"The pilot was unconscious ... so no-one was actually steering and operating this balloon so it was just plunging."

Vanessa Condran, from the Illawarra region, 31, posted on Facebook: "I am alright, a few bumps and bruises.

"And probably will never set foot in another hot air balloon ever again. I feel lucky to have walked out of this traumatic experience, a scary freak accident."

Melbourne's Adele Jayde posted on Instagram that she was "extremely thankful and blessed that myself and my travel companions on this tour all managed to come out of it alive with only minor injuries, as others in the basket with us weren't so lucky."

News Corp Australia named the other four Australians involved as Melbourne pair Montanna Leveque, 20, and River Kano, 21, 24-year-old Emma Forster from Alice Springs and Morgan Adams of Victoria.

Hany Al-Sayyed, traffic manager for the Sinbad hot air balloon company, told CNN the balloon was getting ready to land when a sudden, strong wind erupted.

"The victim is an Australian man of South African descent. His head was hit during the landing. Most of the other injuries are minor, scratches to the torso, and they were taken to the hospital," he said.

Some of those onboard were on a Topdeck tour. A spokesperson from the travel company's London headquarters said last night that response teams were assisting travellers.

Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said other balloons carrying over 400 tourists had taken off and landed safely on Friday.

Balloon flights were resumed on Saturday.

Luxor has a history of hot air balloon crashes. The deadliest was in 2013 when at least 19 foreign tourists were killed when theirs caught fire.

Original article can be found here ➤

The pilot of a hot-air balloon crash that claimed the life of a South African man and injured seven Australians in Egypt is being held in custody after being charged with neglect.

Pilot Baligh Hamdy, Mohamed El Gohary, Company Director Hany El Sayed and Essam Hassan, Director of the Balloon Airport in Luxor, have all been charged with neglect for carrying 22 tourists instead of the authorised number of 20.

The four could remain in jail for 50 days until investigations are completed.

In total, 15 people were injured after the pilot lost control in high winds near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor after taking off around sunrise on Friday. South African Daryn GenWeigle, 34, died in the crash.

The seven Australians — Zoe Drinkwater, 22, Newcastle, Vanessa Condran, 31, from the Illawarra, Montanna Leveque, 20, and River Kano, 21, from Melbourne and Emma Forster, 24, from Alice Springs, Adele Jayde from Melbourne and Morgan Adams from Victoria — have all been released from hospital.

It is understood some have continued with their travel plans, and others were planning to return home.

Abd El Gwad Amin, the assistant director of general administration of tourism and antiquities for south Upper Egypt, said balloon flights were back to normal with 10 flights going up on Sunday.

He said the tourists’ injuries were simple and most of them had been released from Luxor International Hospital on Friday evening and they had travelled to Cairo, as already planned in their travel program.

Head of Luxor Balloon Hisham Al Disoky said the company didn’t receive any request from any party on board to cancel the trip ahead of the predicted bad weather.

He said the weather was suitable for takeoff, and this was backed up by the Meteor Tower of Luxor International Airport.

He said the wind speed was zero on takeoff but grew to 27km/h, a dangerous speed for hot air balloons and this forced a hard landing which resulted in the death and multiple injuries.

However, Al Disoky denied the pilot had made a mistake, saying that what happened was “meant to be” due to the sudden change of the weather and the balloon pilot didn’t fall short of his duty.

Of those injured, two remain in hospital.

French citizen Piper Pirst, 45, suffered a dislocation in the left leg and a injured chin, and Victor Matios, a 52-year-old Argentinian, suffered a broken vertebrae in the back.

A health spokesman from Luxor International Hospital said the South Africa Embassy is co-ordinating the repatriation of GenWeigle.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority Company Committee is investigating the accident.

Story, video and photos ➤

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