07/01/2018 06:17 SAST | Updated 07/01/2018 08:14 SAST

Luxor In Egypt Has A Long History Of Hot Air Balloon Crashes

Is it safe to take a balloon ride in Luxor? A South African was killed in a hot air balloon ride in Luxor this past week.

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Hot-air balloons have been a core component of the tourism industry in Luxor, Egypt, for about 25 years, but the city's recent safety record is a cause for alarm, the Telegraph reported.

It's history is being highlighted following the death of a South Africa tourist on a hot air balloon ride in Luxor this past week. Twelve others, including another South African, were injured.

The most unforgettable incident took place in February 2013.

Nineteen of 21 people taking an early-morning ride were killed when a leaking fuel line caused a fire as the balloon came in to land.

The two survivors - one of whom was the pilot - leapt to safety while the balloon was still close to the ground.


The Telegraph reported that those who died either jumped to their deaths to escape the blaze, which engulfed the passenger basket as the uncontrolled craft soared rapidly, or were killed when it exploded at around 980ft (300m).

The high fatality count made this the worst ballooning accident in history. In the immediate wake of the disaster, balloon flights were suspended across Egypt.

The operator behind the flight had been involved in another accident 17 months earlier. In October 2011, a Sky Cruises balloon plunged into the Nile. No-one was killed, but tourists had to be rescued after the craft hit a boat and ended up floating in the river.

The publication reported that this followed a crash (involving another operator) in April 2009. Sixteen people were injured when a balloon drifted into a mobile-phone mast close to the Nile. The pilot had reportedly taken off in bad weather, and without permission.

This was the latest in a run of incidents - a similar crash had occurred only two weeks earlier. February 2008 saw three balloons, carrying 60 tourists, crash on the same day. April 2008 saw a crash-landing which injured seven.

Flights were suspended for six months in the wake of the April 2009 accident while pilots underwent further training and safety measures were tightened.

The Telegraph reported that balloon rides were popular in Luxor because its setting makes a great experience if conducted properly. Flights usually take off at dawn for sunrise glimpses of the Nile and the Valley of the Kings.

Questions have been raised on the number of accidents involving hot air balloon crashes in the area and fingers have been pointed at falling safety standards in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, and various terror attacks in the country.

The publication reported that these had seen tourist numbers plunge, and amid economic pressure and declining revenues, may have caused standards to slip.