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Luxor tourism undermined by sightseeing balloon crash

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Investigators are still gathering evidence about the cause

The fatal crash of a sightseeing balloon that killed 19 resulted in already perhaps the hardest hit by Egypt’s two-year drop in tourism, which has left hotels here empty and residents desperate for income. Some connected to the tourist trade in Luxor, a city utterly dependent on foreign visitors to survive, were very angry on Wednesday at the country’s Islamist president for his silence over the incident. Investigators are still gathering evidence about the cause of the crash; they had not yet questioned the balloon’s pilot, who survived the crash with severe burns.

The hot air balloon was carrying 20 tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, Britain, Belgium and France on a sunrise flight over Luxor’s popular pharaonic sites and desert landscape. The only other survivor was a tourist from Britain. He and the pilot were being treated in military hospitals in Cairo, as families of some of the victims arrived in the country to identify their loved ones.

The crash had one immediate effect with the suspension of all balloon rides in the area. But Tour operators would be allowed again to conduct hot air balloon flights from April 1, announced Civil Aviation Minister Wael al-Maadawi.

AP / Reuters

[pictured: Luxor Temple by night]

 

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