Tragic balloon crash kills 11 in New Zealand
A hot air balloon ignited and crashed in New Zealand Saturday morning. Authorities say eleven people -- the pilot and five couples -- were all wiped out. Source for this article: New Zealand balloon disaster kills eleven
Where everyone goes ballooning
About 50 miles northeast of Wellington on the North Island in New Zealand, the crash occurred. Nobody survived the accident. It was a well-known location for the balloon to be seen.
Unclear how the fire started
It is unknown what really occurred to cause the fire. Superintendent Mike Rusbatch of the New Zealand Law enforcement Wellington division said that the fire probably started by a fire in the basket that went up into the balloon. He said:
“This is an absolutely tragic incident, and our thoughts are with the families of the deceased. We are in the process of notifying next of kin. However, we will not be releasing any names until all next of kin have been advised.”
Weather not a factor
The weather most likely had nothing to do with the crash since “it was a perfect morning for ballooning,” as reported by a Wairarapa District Health board spokeswoman.
What did a witness say?
One eyewitness, David McKinlay, told Television New Zealand that he saw flames increasing from the basket as it fell:
“There were flames licking up the side of the basket, right up the guy ropes. … There was a big, long, pencil-like flame maybe 20 meters long, heading towards the ground at a terrible speed.”
Hitting power lines
Another eyewitness said he was waving to the passengers in the balloon when it struck a power line:
“[It] clipped a power wire and tried to go up, then they have sort of gone across the road then it is caught fire.”
The area lost power for 20 minutes due to the collision.
The incident is the worst aviation accident in New Zealand in more than 30 years. In 1979 a sightseeing plane crashed into Mount Erebus, killing 237 passengers and 20 crew members.