Several feared dead in US hot air balloon crash
A hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people has caught fire and crashed in the US state of Texas, with all on board feared dead.
The balloon came down in fields near Lockhart, about 30 miles (50km) south of the state capital Austin.
Caldwell County sheriff Daniel Law said the basket of the balloon was on fire when emergency crews arrived.
Videos posted by local media suggest the balloon came down near tall power lines, but the cause is not yet known.
The balloon crashed at about 07:40, officials said.
“It does not appear at this time that there were any survivors of the crash,” the sheriff’s office said.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will lead the investigation. Erik Grosof, an NTSB official at the scene, said only that there had been “a number of fatalities”.
He said the balloon was believed to have belonged to the Heart of Texas Balloon Rides, an Austin-based company that offers trips to see the sunrise with champagne.
Local resident Margaret Wylie said she was outside her home when she heard two “pops” which she thought was a gun going off.
“The next thing I knew you saw a big fireball go up. I was just praying that whoever was there got away from the thing in time,” she said.
A Fox News reporter from Lockhart who is at the scene says contact was lost with the balloon about half an hour into a scheduled one-hour flight.
Governor Greg Abbott asked in a statement that “all of Texas to join us in praying for those lost”.