Luxor, Egypt: In one of the worst crashes affecting tourists, at least 19 foreign tourists lost their lives on Tuesday as a hot air balloon crashed near Egyptian town of Luxor, reports said.
French, British, Chinese and Japanese nationals are said to be among those dead, said an official.
An Egyptian security official said that there was a fire and an explosion and that the balloon then plunged from the sky and crashed into sugar cane fields west of Luxor on Tuesday. Luxor is 510 kilometers (320 miles) south of Cairo.
It was one of the worst crashes involving tourists in the country already struggling with a decimated tourism industry.
Two survivors of the crash were taken to a local hospital with critical injuries.
Bodies of the slain tourists were scattered across the field around the remnants of the balloon. An Associated Press reporter at the crash site counted eight bodies as they were put into body bags and taken away.
Hot air ballooning, usually at sunrise over the Karnak and Luxor temples as well as the Valley of the Kings, is a popular pastime for tourists visiting Luxor.
Tourism is one of Egypt's economic pillars and main revenue of foreign currency.
The site of the accident has seen accidents in the past. In 2009, 16 tourists were injured when their balloon stuck a cellphone transmission. A year earlier, seven tourists were injured in a similar crash.
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 12:32