Hot-air balloon inferno kills four
Four people were killed and 23 injured when a hot-air balloon – one of the largest of its kind in the world – caught fire and crashed in bad weather in Slovenia early yesterday.
The injured included one Briton who was, said the British Embassy, “OK, considering the circumstances”.
Eight others, including a child, remained in a critical condition last night. One survivor told local news that the balloon hit treetops when attempting to land, rupturing a gas valve and catching fire around 8am. People then either fell from the basket or jumped to save themselves from the inferno.
The balloon was still in flames when firefighters arrived at the scene, firefighters’ chief Tomaz Kucic told the official STA news agency.
The four dead were badly burned. Most of the injured suffered broken bones and burns, the chief physician at Ljubljana Hospital said.
The crashed balloon was among the biggest in the world, having the capacity to carry 32 people, including a pilot and flight attendant. Its operator, Balonarski Centre in Ljubljana, was unavailable for comment.
A second, smaller balloon operated by the same company made a successful landing at around the same time.
Some pilots were angry that the balloons took to the air. “They were crazy to go up in that weather,” said Grega Trcek, a Slovenian balloon pilot with 3,200 flying hours. “The weather conditions were not at all suitable.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east