Two killed in hot air balloon crash

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Two killed in hot air balloon crash

A French and Indian national were killed and 11 others suffered moderate to serious injuries when the hot air balloon in which they were on a tourist trip crashed as it was trying to make an emergency landing.

By T. Ramavarman, Silvia Radan And Anwar Ahmad (With inputs from Asif Zaidi)

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Published: Mon 26 Apr 2010, 12:54 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:57 AM

The incident took place at Nahel, near Suwaihan in Al Ain, on Sunday morning.

The police, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the embassies of India and France and the balloon operating company did not give out the names of the two killed in the accident. The 24-person capacity balloon had 14 people on board, including the captain.

Officials of the Balloon Adventures Emirates (BAE) which organised the trip, said one of their ground crew members from Tanzania was among those injured. The seriously injured are being treated at Al Tawam Hospital, Al Ain.

“The pilot and 13 passengers took off early in light winds. But the wind picked up significantly and the pilot decided to make an emergency landing,” the BAE said in a statement.

‘‘Police and GCAA authorities are currently investigating the accident and BAE has suspended operations for the next few days pending the outcome of the investigation,’’ the statement said.

“It was a freak wind which changed suddenly during landing,” Captain Peter Kollar, the managing director of BAE, told Khaleej Times. “Most of the people on board were tourists and are now back in their hotel rooms.”

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the GCAA, said the cause of accident would be known soon. “Our team is already there to investigate the accident, and we should be able to know the reasons very soon. This is only a balloon and not a complicated vehicle.”

Alain Azouaou, the French Ambassador in Abu Dhabi, said the body of the French tourist, would be repatriated home for the funeral.

“We are in contact with the relevant authorities in the UAE and France, and also with the family of the French tourist to provide assistance,” read a statement issued by the French Embassy.

Indian Embassy officials said they would render support to the family of the Indian who died in the accident. ‘‘We understand the Indian who had died had come here on a tourist trip along with his family. The family members were also on board the balloon. We are told the body is being brought to Abu Dhabi from Al Ain tonight,’’ Indian Ambassador to the UAE M. K. Lokesh, said.

Colonel Hamad Ajlan Al Emeimi, Director of Al Ain Police Directorate, said as soon as the operation room was tipped off, police patrols, rescue and ambulance and air wing police teams rushed to the crash scene.

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