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Hot Air Balloon Explodes in Mid-Air Over Egypt, Killing 18

A hot air balloon carrying a group of tourists near Luxor, Egypt, exploded in mid-air Tuesday, killing 18 people in the deadliest accident ever of its kind.

Twenty-one passengers were onboard at the time; the pilot and two other survivors were taken to the hospital. The explosion, probably caused by gas, occurred while the balloon was about 1,000 feet in the air.

Hot air balloon trips are a popular excursion for tourists in the region, giving them a chance at some breathtaking views of the surrounding desert and farmland. Also visible is the renowned Valley of the Kings, where many ancient pharaohs were entombed.

According to officials, among the dead are nine visitors from Hong Kong, four from Japan, three from Britain, two from France and one from Hungary. The survivors included two Britons and the Egyptian pilot.

All hot air balloon trips have been suspended for the time being in Luxor. In 1989, 13 people died when two balloons collided in Australia, which had been the deadliest balloon incident on record.

[CNN]

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