British man dies in hot air balloon accident in central Turkey

29 Mayıs 2009 - 10:20Son Güncelleme : 29 Mayıs 2009 - 17:12

ISTANBUL - A British man was killed when a hot air balloon crashed in the tourist region of Cappadocia in central Turkey early on Friday, news agencies reported. (UPDATED)

Ten other people, one critically, were injured in the accident in the central province of Nevsehir, according to reports.

The balloon went down at around 6 a.m. (GMT 0300) for a yet unknown reason from a height of 50 meters shortly after it took from near Zelve village, Governor Asim Hacimustafaoglu told Dogan News Agency.

The injured, including the British operator of the balloon, were taken to two hospitals in the central province of Kayseri for treatment.

The patients have been receiving treatment mainly for head injuries and fractures, said a statement released by Acibadem Hospital, where nine of the injured were taken.

Explore Worldwide, the British firm that organized the trip, said eight of the passengers injured in the incident were British nationals and the ninth French, Reuters reported.

The company said it was still investigating the accident but believed two balloons collided shortly after take-off.

"We are of course looking after those involved and liaising with their families and with those of other clients ... and we are shocked that such a popular activity should have resulted in such a tragic outcome," Explore Worldwide's managing director, Ashley Toft, told Reuters. She added that the balloon plunged up to 200 meters, conflicting with a statement of the account released by Turkish officials.

The firm said passengers were on a nine-day "Hidden Trail of Cappadocia" excursion when the accident occurred.

Explore Worldwide said in a statement it had used the same balloon operator in Turkey for 10 years without incident.

Several companies offer hot-air balloon rides over Cappadocia, which is a major tourist attraction with its cone-shaped rock formations, rock-carved underground cities and early Christian churches.

 

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