Major hot air balloon crash in Egypt

19 tourists were killed after the hot air balloon in which they were travelling crashed near the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor, some 500km south of Cairo, at dawn on Tuesday 26 February.

The casualties were from Britain, France, Japan, Hong Kong and included one Egyptian, according to the Middle East News Agency (MENA). Two survivors, the balloon's pilot and a tourist, are being treated in hospital.

The balloon, which was carrying 21 people, was flying at 300m over Qurna, west of Luxor, before reportedly catching fire, exploding and crashing into sugar cane fields below.  

Hot air ballooning at dawn in Luxor is popular with tourists viewing the area’s pharaonic temples and the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, including that of Tutankhamen.

The news will be a further blow to the country’s tourist sector which has witnessed a steady decline in the two years of political instability since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in early 2011.