February 26, 2013 at 13:15 PM EST
19 Foreigners Killed In Hot Air Balloon Accident In Southern Egypt

Nineteen foreigners died in southern Egypt Tuesday morning when the hot air balloon they were riding in exploded and plummeted to the ground. Two Egyptians believed to be the balloon’s operators reportedly survived.

According to reports, the balloon was carrying 19 tourists and 2 operators on a sightseeing trip over Luxor when it suddenly exploded around 7 a.m. The balloon fell 1,000 feet and crashed into a sugar cane field outside the village of al-Dhabaa. Charred bodies and pieces of balloon littered the field. The dead include nine Chinese nationals, four Japanese, three British, two French and one Hungarian.

An Egyptian official speaking anonymously said foul play has been ruled out as the cause of the crash. He said it appears a landing cable triggered the explosion when it became caught on a helium tube. State-run media has reported a gas explosion as the cause of the crash.

Luxor province Gov. Izzat Saad suspended all hot air balloon rides after the accident. The crash remains under investigation.

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