Egypt balloon tragedy

Gas leak caused 2013 Egypt balloon crash: report

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 2:45am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 2:22pm

A hot air disaster crash in Egypt last year that killed 19 tourists, nine of them from Hong Kong, was probably caused by a gas leak, an official Egyptian report released yesterday said.

A fact-finding committee found the "likely cause" of the accident in February in Luxor was "a gas leak in the upper section of the hose ... near the burner", the report said.

The leak sparked a blaze that spread throughout the balloon, it said.

Relatives of the Hong Kong victims – four men and five women, aged 33 to 62, from three families – had earlier pressed the city's government to push for a full report from the Egyptian authorities into the tragedy. They also sought an inquest into the deaths.

Only one holidaymaker and the balloon's pilot survived the disaster.

The holidaymaker, Michael Rennie of Perth Scotland, watched from the ground as his wife, Yvonne, died in the flaming balloon. He told Scottish paper The Courier: "It was hell. The balloon went up in flames only three seconds after the gas leak started."

The pilot told his boss he tried to reach the safety valves of the gas tanks to stop but the leak but failed because he was on fire.

The badly injured pilot, Moman Mourad, was arrested two months after the disaster.

The Egyptian authorities lifted a ban on most balloon flight operators in August, despite a promise that such activity would only resume upon the completion of their investigations.

Watch: The Luxor hot air balloon accident