British tourists reportedly among 19 killed in Egypt hot air balloon crash
UPDATE 3.25PM: A Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson said in a statement:
“We can confirm the tragic deaths of 2 British Nationals and 1 British resident following a hot air balloon crash in Luxor, Egypt earlier today.
"The next of kin have been informed and our thoughts are with them and their families at this difficult time.
"We are providing them with consular assistance. We can also confirm that one other British National was involved and is in a stable condition.
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“We have had consular officials in Luxor since early this morning who have been focussed on providing consular assistance and supporting the Egyptian authorities.
"Our Ambassador to Egypt has met the injured British National and has offered our assistance”.
UPDATE 3.10PM: The UK Foreign Office has confirmed the deaths of two British nationals and one British resident in the crash.
UPDATE 12.10: The French Foreign Ministry has confirmed two French citizens have been killed in the Luxor balloon crash, AFP reports.
UPDATE 10.55AM: Two Britons have died and two are in hospital following a hot air balloon crash in Egypt, tour operator Thomas Cook has confirmed.
AFP reports hot air balloon flights have been banned in Luxor following the fatal crash.
UPDATE 10.40AM: Ross Lydall of the London Evening Standard tweeted:
UPDATE 10.33AM: BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool tweeted:
Meanwhile Egypt Prime Minister Hisham Qandil is reported to be launching an investigation into the balloon explosion.
UPDATE 10.18AM: The governor has grounded all hot air balloon flights around the ancient sites of Luxor for an indefinite period, BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool reports.
The balloon's operating company confirmed a gas cylinder exploded on board the balloon, bringing it down in an agricultural area just west of Luxor.
UPDATE 9.40AM: Initial reports of 19 dead have been revised to 18, Associated Press (AP) reports.
The casualties include British, French and Japanese nationals and nine tourists from Hong Kong, an official said.
Three survivors of the crash — two tourists and one Egyptian — were taken to a local hospital.
According to the Egyptian security official, the balloon carrying at least 20 tourists was flying over Luxor when it caught fire, which triggered an explosion in its gas canister, then plunged at least 300 meters (1,000 feet) from the sky.
The official said foul play has been ruled out.
FRANCE 24 journalist Clovis Casali tweeted:
Meanwhile Sky News reports two British nationals survived the balloon crash and are in a "critical condition" in hospital.
A number of Britons are reported to be among 19 tourists killed in a hot air balloon crash near the Egyptian city of Luxor.
The balloon is understood to have caught fire and exploded at 1,000 ft (300m), crashing onto a sugar cane field west of Luxor.
British, French, Chinese and Japanese nationals are reported to be among those killed in the crash. Only two people, including the balloon's pilot, are thought to have survived.
Eye-witnesses said they heard an explosion and saw smoke. An Associated Press (AP) reporter at the crash site counted eight bodies as they were put into body bags and taken away.
It is reported to have been one of the worst crashes involving tourists in the country.
The British Foreign Office wrote on its Twitter page this morning:
Luxor, which is 320 miles (510km) south of the capital Cairo, is a popular tourist spot. Lying on the banks of the River Nile, it boasts pharaonic-era ruins and royal tombs.
Hot air balloon rides at sunrise are a popular way to see the sites.
According to AP the site of the crash has seen accidents in the past. In 2009, 16 tourists were injured when their balloon stuck a mobile phone transmission. A year earlier, seven tourists were injured in a similar crash.