CAIRO (AP) — Relatives of some of the Western and Asian tourists killed in a balloon accident arrived in Egypt on Wednesday to identify the bodies of the victims, airport officials said.
Nineteen tourists died when the hot air balloon they were riding caught fire and plummeted about 1,000 feet to the ground Tuesday in the ancient city of Luxor in southern Egypt. One British tourist survived along with the pilot of the balloon, who was badly injured.
The death toll surpassed what was believed by ballooning experts to be the deadliest accident in the sport's 200-year history: In 1989, 13 people were killed when their hot air balloon collided with another over the Australian outback near the town of Alice Springs.
The balloon over Luxor, 510 kilometers (320 miles) south of Cairo, was carrying tourists from France, Britain, Belgium, Japan and Hong Kong plus an Egyptian pilot. The balloon flights provide panoramic views of the ancient Karnak and Luxor temples and the Valley of the Kings, the burial ground of Tutankhamun and other pharaohs.
An airport official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said relatives of nine tourists from Hong Kong arrived in Cairo to identify the bodies of the victims.
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