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Texas hot air balloon crash: 'No survivors' among 16 on board



  • 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.
  • Balloon crashed in Lockhart, Texas, Saturday killing 16 people on board

'It does not appear at this time that there were any survivors,' sheriff said   
Pilot is identified as Skip Nichols of Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides
Tributes poured in to commemorate Nichols' enthusiasm for life, but the Better Business Bureau gave his hot air balloon company a D+ rating
Newlyweds Matt and Sunday Rowan were identified by friends as victims 
Tragedy is now the single deadliest hot air balloon crash in the US
Investigators believe the balloon hit power lines before erupting into flames
Caldwell County sheriff Daniel Law said the basket of the balloon was on fire when emergency crews arrived.

Video footage from local media suggest the balloon came down near tall power lines, but the cause is still sketchy.

The balloon crashed at about 07:40 (12:40 GMT), officials said.


footage after the balloon came down after catching fire 
"It does not appear at this time that there were any survivors of the crash," the sheriff's office said.

Skip Nichols (pictured left, with passengers on a 2015 flight and right) has been identified as the balloon's pilot with the company Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides

The National Transportation Safety Board 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".



WORST EVER HOT AIR BALLOON CRASHES IN THE UNITED STATES

The world's deadliest hot air balloon crash occurred in Luxor, Egypt, in 2013 after a fire caused 19 deaths. These are some of the worst recreational hot air balloon accidents within the US:
May 9, 2014: Three people died during an air balloon festival in Caroline County, Virginia, when their balloon struck a power line and burst into flames during a landing attempt. 
August 8, 1993: Six people were killed when their balloon hit a power line near Aspen, Colorado, tearing off the basket and sending it plunging 100 feet to the ground. 
December 11, 1990: Four people died near downtown Columbus, Ohio, after their hot-air balloon hit a television tower and deflated.
October 3, 1982: An explosion onboard a hot-air balloon carrying nine people at a festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, killed four people and injured five.
August 6, 1981: Five people were killed and one seriously injured when a hot-air balloon caught fire after touching electrical wires and crashed in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. 




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