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Balloon blow

Egyptians check out the scene of the explosion.

Egyptians check out the scene of the explosion.

CAIRO — British, French, Hong Kong and Japanese nationals are among at least 18 tourists killed in a hot air balloon crash near the Egyptian city of Luxor.

The balloon was at 300 metres when it caught fire and plunged onto fields west of Luxor, officials said.

At least two people, including the balloon’s pilot, survived, reportedly by jumping out of the balloon before it crashed.

Luxor is home to some of Egypt’s most famous pharaonic-era ruins.

It lies on the banks of the River Nile in the south of the country, and has long been a popular tourist destination.

British tour operator Thomas Cook confirmed that four of its clients were on board the balloon – two had died and two were in hospital.

The Chinese embassy in Egypt has confirmed that nine Hong Kong tourists died in the balloon crash.

Egyptian police have said the other tourists include four from Japan and two from France. At least one Egyptian also died.

Earlier reports suggested 19 people had been killed.

The crash happened on one of the many dawn hot air balloon flights that give tourists an aerial view of Luxor’s famous sites, such as Karnak temple and the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

The balloon’s operating company, Sky Cruise, confirmed that a gas cylinder exploded on board the balloon, bringing it down in an agricultural area just west of Luxor. (BBC)

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