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Egypt resumes hot air balloon sightseeing

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Egypt has resumed hot air balloon sightseeing in Luxor, weeks after a fiery accident halted flights.Egypt has resumed hot air balloon sightseeing in the ancient city of Luxor, weeks after a fiery accident led authorities to halt the flights.

Luxor Governor Ezzat Saad, who boarded the first balloon with several Australian, British and Arab tourists on Sunday, said he was pleased with the resumption of the flights, which he considers "one of the most important touristic aspects of the city".

Mohammed Ibrahim Sherif, head of the civil aviation authority, said flights had resumed after safety measures required by his office were implemented. He said five out of seven companies have been allowed back in the air.

Authorities suspended flights after 19 tourists were killed on February 26 when their balloon caught fire and crashed in a sugar cane field. One British tourist survived, along with the balloon's pilot. Both were injured.

The tourists - from Hong Kong, Japan, Britain, Belgium and France - were travelling on a sunrise flight over Luxor's dramatic pharaonic sites and desert landscape.

The disaster occurred as the balloon was landing. Initial investigations suggested the fire broke out when a landing cable tore a fuel tube used to fire the burner that heats the balloon's air.

Sherif said investigations were still ongoing and may take another five weeks.
Ballooning experts say the accident was the worst in the sport's 200-year history. The second-largest disaster was in Australia in 1989, when two balloons collided near Alice Springs, killing 13.


Last changed: Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

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