Egypt hot air balloon crash kills 19 Asian tourists
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Luxor has seen crashes in the past. In 2009, 16 tourists were injured when their balloon struck a cellphone transmission tower. A year earlier, seven tourists were injured in a similar crash.
The toll puts the crash among the deadliest involving a recreation hot air balloon. In 1989, 13 people were killed when their hot air balloon collided with another over the Australian outback near the town of Alice Springs.
Among the dead Tuesday was a Japanese couple in their 60s, among four Japanese who were killed, according to the head of Japan Travel Bureau's Egypt branch, Atsushi Imaeda.
In Hong Kong, a travel agency said nine of the tourists that were aboard the balloon were natives of the semiautonomous Chinese city. There was a ``very big chance that all nine have perished,'' said Raymond Ng, a spokesman for the agency. The nine, he said, included five women and four men from three families.
They were traveling with six other Hong Kong residents on a 10-day tour of Egypt.
Ng said an escort of the nine tourists watched the balloon from the ground catching fire around 7 a.m. And plunging to the ground two minutes later.
In Britain, tour operator Thomas Cook confirmed that two British tourists were killed in the crash, and two were in hospital.
"What happened in Luxor this morning is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of everyone in Thomas Cook are with our guests, their family and friends,'' said Peter Fankhauser, CEO of Thomas Cook UK & Continental Europe. He said the firm is providing ``full support'' to the victims' families.
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