Hot Air Balloon Explosion Kills 19 in Egypt; Worst-Ever Accident of Its KindS

Nineteen tourists are dead and two are injured following a hot air balloon explosion 1,000 feet above Luxor, Egypt. The balloon apparently collided with a high-pressure electrical cable, detonating one of its gas cylinders; as it plummeted to the ground, some passengers leaped out "from about the height of a seven-story building," a witness told the BBC. Eighteen, including tourists from the UK, China, Japan, France, Hungary, and Egypt died at the scene, their bodies strewn about the field where the balloon crashed, while the nineteenth victim died in surgery five hours later. The two survivors, the pilot and one passenger, a British tourist, may have saved their lives by jumping. A 2009 hot air balloon accident in Luxor, in which more than a dozen tourists were injured, prompted a six-month suspension of flights as safety standards were tightened and pilots were re-trained; today's accident, by all accounts the worst-ever of its kind, has prompted the city to indefinitely suspend flights. [BBC | AJE]