19 Tourists Die in Hot Air Balloon Crash in Egypt

A hot air balloon flying over Egypt's ancient city of Luxor caught fire and crashed Tuesday, killing at least 19 foreign tourists, according to health and security officials.

It was one of the worst accidents involving tourists in Egypt and likely to push the key tourism industry deeper into recession.

The casualties included French, British, Belgian, Hungarian, Japanese nationals and nine tourists from Hong Kong, Luxor Governor Ezzat Saad told reporters.

Three initial survivors of the crash -- two British tourists and one Egyptian -- were taken to a local hospital. But one of the British tourists later died of his injuries. British tour operator Thomas Cook confirmed that the tourist died in the hospital, while state radio reported that the Egyptian has severe burns on his body.

Egypt's civil aviation minister, Wael el-Maadawi, suspended hot air balloon flights and flew to Luxor to lead the investigation into the crash.

According to the Egyptian security official, the balloon -- carrying at least 20 tourists -- was flying over Luxor early Tuesday when it caught fire, which triggered an explosion in its gas canister, then plunged at least 1,000 feet from the sky.

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