New Zealand hot air balloon crash leaves no survivors including 10 passengers and pilot

By on Jan 7, 2012 in World Comments

A hot air balloon crashed in Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, January 7, 2012 after it went into flames up high, with 11 people killed including five couples and the pilot.

As noted at New Zealand news sites that day, the incident happened at around 7.30am (NZ time) at Somerset Road in Carterton, a town northeast of Wellington, leaving its pilot and 10 passengers dead.

According to Radio New Zealand, the troubled hot air balloon was believed to be owned by operated by Lance Hopping, an experienced pilot, but it was not yet confirmed if he was the pilot that time.

Superintendent Mike Rusbatch, Wellington District commander for New Zealand police, told reports that there were witnesses during the incident and provided some hints on what could possibly happen.

It was not immediately clear what started the fire, but eyewitnesses told the police power was cut and was possibly by the hot air balloon before it touched the ground, with the power stored back later.

“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.” Rusbatch was quoted on the report.

“However, we will not be releasing any names until all next of kin have been advised.” Rusbatch added, noting that authorities are still investigating the real reason why the hot air balloon crashed.

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