At least 16 dead in hot air balloon crash in Central Texas

Investigators surround the scene in a field near Lockhart, Texas where a hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people collided with power lines Saturday, July 30, 2016, causing what authorities described as a "significant loss of life." Austin American-Statesman via AP Ralph Barrera
Investigators surround the scene in a field near Lockhart, Texas where a hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people collided with power lines Saturday, July 30, 2016, causing what authorities described as a “significant loss of life.” Austin American-Statesman via AP Ralph Barrera

{MAIMI HERALD/Associated Press} – At least 16 people died in the hot air balloon crash in Central Texas, the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday, adding that investigators are still trying to determine the exact number of passengers and what caused the accident.

It’s apparently the worst such disaster in U.S. history, and one of the worst ever in the world. In February 2013, a balloon flying over Luxor, Egypt, caught fire and plunged 1,000 feet to the ground, crashing into a sugar cane field and killing at least 19 foreign tourists.

NTSB investigators are beginning the process of determining what caused the balloon to crash Saturday morning in a pasture near Lockhart, Texas, which is about 30 miles south of Austin, NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said during a news conference Sunday in Washington. He noted they’ll be looking at “three things — human, machine and environment.”

Investigators will scrutinize the company that operated the balloon and the pilot, neither of which have been publicly identified. The balloon was operated by Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides, according to two officials familiar with the investigation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition that they not be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The operation does not appear to be registered with the state of Texas.

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About Cholo Brooks 14281 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.