In the wake of a fatal hot air balloon crash that killed 19 tourists Tuesday morning in the city of Luxor, Egypt, the governor of the region has ordered a ban on all flights in the city.
“Governor Ezzat Saad ordered that all balloon companies stop working, and that no hot hair balloon flights take off from Luxor,” the official MENA news agency reported, without detailing how long the ban would remain.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, a hot air balloon suffered a mid-air explosion near the ancient temple city, and is thought to be the deadliest balloon crash in recent history.
According to the The New York Times the fatal accident occurred at around 06:30 am. It’s thought the pilot was attempting to stabilize the balloon before landing in a nearby field when a rip in the gas hose between the burner and the gas canister reportedly ignited.
Witnesses heard a loud explosion at the time of the blast.
BBC News reports the balloon was at 300 meters (1,000 ft) when it caught fire, plunging into the fields west of Luxor. There were reportedly 2o passengers on board, but at least two people — including the balloon’s pilot — are thought to have jumped out of the balloon before it burst into flames and crashed.
The pilot, who is being treated for burns, may have survived by jumping when the balloon was just 10-15 meters (33-49 ft) above ground, a local ballooning official told Reuters.
Dr Abdul Sultan of Luxor International Hospital told the BBC that two Britons had died. One is said to have undergone five hours of surgery, but later died of his. Another Briton is reportedly being treated in hospital.
The UK-based tour operator Thomas Cook said three of its clients had died, and all three are believed to be British nationals. The dead also included nine Hong Kong tourists, four from Japan, two French natives, one Hungarian, and an Egyptian, Egypt’s health ministry said.
The governor of Luxor, Ezzat Saad, told the BBC he wanted to send condolences to the families of those killed and injured.
“We have never seen anything quite like this in Luxor before. It is an awful thing,” he added. “For the safety of the tourists and the Egyptians I have ordered all the companies dealing with balloons to stop flights until we know exactly what happened and the reasons for it.”
Luxor borders the banks of the River Nile in the south of the Egypt and is a popular tourist destination. It is also home to some of Egypt’s most famous ancient ruins, with the temples of Karnak and Luxor in the city itself and tombs of famed pharaohs — including Tutankhamen — located in valleys nearby.