Survivors of Peru balloon crash withstand 9 hours afloat

Lima, Apr 29 (EFE).- The five young women who survived the crash of a hot air balloon in the Pacific Ocean south of Lima endured nine hours afloat in the water and are recovering Monday at a Peruvian military hospital.

Some of the survivors did not know how to swim, but stayed afloat by hanging onto the balloon, which had neither a GPS device nor life jackets.

The pilot, who also couldn't swim, and another passenger, who tried to swim ashore, are still missing, and the search for them has been impeded by the dense fog along the Lima coast.

The head of the Naval Hospital, Hugo Gallo, said on the N channel that the women suffered "muscular damage from the excessive effort they had to make against the movement of the sea in order to survive."

They also suffered slight to moderate hypothermia, the reason they will remain under observation for the rest of the day.

Navy chief spokesman Fernando Valeriano said on RPP radio that aircraft could not be used to search for the missing persons due to the fog, but that three patrol boats are combing the area.

The families of those aboard the balloon complained that the company in charge of the tourist excursion, Globos Peru SAC, did not inform them of the emergency.

It is incomprehensible that companies "that fly and carry passengers do not have GPS devices for a quick search in case of an accident," Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said Monday in comments to RPP.

"It is truly a miracle that in such conditions the five women survived," he said.

Pedraza said the search for the missing persons will continue.