• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 1:46am

Egypt balloon tragedy

Nine Hong Kong tourists were among 19 victims killed in Luxor, Egypt, when a hot-air balloon burst into flames as it was descending during a sightseeing tour on February 26, 2013. Only the Egyptian pilot and a Briton survived the early morning accident. The other victims, out of 20 passengers, were from France, Japan, Britain, Hungary and Egypt. 

CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Balloon tragedy holds painful lessons

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 3:37am

Few of us can imagine the horror and disbelief of the tourists, nine from Hong Kong, caught up in the hot-air balloon disaster in Egypt. In an instant, an adventure of wonder and awe became a fight for life, one that circumstances meant was bound to end tragically. The grief and sorrow of the relatives and friends of all who perished are shared by us all, a reminder of how easily loved ones can be taken from us. Questions as to what happened abound and they need to be answered.

Those who died had an adventurous spirit. The chance to see the Nile River and millennia-old sites of Luxor at dawn from a hot-air balloon is one few would have passed up. Those who could afford to signed up and boarded. There was little thought that equipment might be faulty or safety a problem. In the wake of the disaster, flights have rightly been suspended to determine what went wrong. As after another balloon accident at the same location in 2009 that injured 16 people, there can be no resumption until an investigation and review of safety standards has been conducted.

Egypt is an ancient land, but one that is also struggling to overcome the neglect of decades of corrupt rule. It is typical of destinations increasingly favoured by Hong Kong people, bored by traditional travel spots. But there are dangers with going to such places beyond the travel warnings posted by our government. Often, it comes down to a lack of regulation and safety. This was the reason for a bus crash in Egypt in 2006 that killed 14 Hong Kong tourists and for a rash of similar accidents on the mainland over the years.

Adventure travel has to be given a second thought in such places, no matter how experienced a traveller may be. The credentials of companies that operate tours and the promises of those behind rides like those involving balloons have to be carefully considered. A terrible tragedy has occurred and every effort has to be made to bring comfort to the victims and their families. But from loss also has to come lessons; answers have to be found to prevent similar calamities.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

This article is now closed to comments

hmleung600
Accidents like this one must have been waiting to happen. A few months ago my friend dove fifteen meters underwater in a popular resort accompanied by a dive guide, forced to do an emergency ascend because she wasn't taught how to equalize her ears, and it took her weeks to recover from the resulting headache. I happen to be a qualified diver and this freaks me out. She was given a few minutes’ briefing before that dive, while a proper diving course takes weeks. It could have killed her.
What lesson should we learn? Take our own risks and don't trust anyone entirely for our safety? Perhaps so.

Login

SCMP.com Account

or