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18 Dead in Egypt after balloon catches fire

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Cairo, Feb 26 (EFE).- At least 18 people died Tuesday and another three were injured when a balloon packed with tourists caught fire in the southern city of Luxor, Egypt's health ministry told Efe.

The head of the ministry's office in Luxor, Mohammed Rabia, said the fatalities included one Egyptian and 17 foreigners including tourists from Britain, France, China and Japan.

Rabia said there were no Spaniards or Latin Americans among the victims.

The injured are two British tourists and an Egyptian, the official said, citing information from Sky Cruise, the company that organized the balloon excursion.

Rabia said that all the bodies were charred, which made their identification difficult, so authorities are studying whether to bring a DNA expert from Cairo or send the burned bodies to the capital for analysis.

An official at safety services told Efe that some tourists lost their lives jumping out of the balloon, while others burned to death in the fire, which broke out around 6:00 a.m. when the fuel tank exploded.

The balloon fell to the ground from an altitude of about 300 meters (100 feet) in the air.

In April 2009, 13 foreign tourists were injured when the balloon they were riding in struck a telephone tower in Luxor.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130226/18-dead-egypt-after-balloon-catches-fire