11 Dead in New Zealand Hot Air Balloon Crash

Witnesses told of seeing high flames rising from the balloon's basket.


 
 

RAY LILLEY, Associated Press | | Friday, January 6, 2012


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A hot air balloon crashed and killed all 11 people aboard near a rural New Zealand town some 94 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital, Wellington, officials said Saturday.

Wairarapa District Health Board spokeswoman Jill Stringer said the 11 people died when the balloon came down near show grounds north of the township of Carterton.

Police confirmed there were "multiple deaths" when the balloon crashed.

Witnesses told local media of seeing 32-foot (10-meter) high flames rising from the balloon's basket before it plummeted to the ground.

"I was watering the garden and heard a noise, the noise of the gas to raise the balloon. I looked over and I couldn't believe it — one side of the basket was on fire," said local resident David McKinlay.

"It was just above the trees when I first saw it ... it looked like he (the pilot) tried to raise it a bit higher ... all of a sudden there was just 10 meters of flames," he said. "It was like a rocket coming down — it was just unbelievable."

The dark blue and maroon striped balloon was about 500 feet (150 meters) in the air and dropped quickly, turning to "just a sheer flame as it hit the ground," where "there was a big bang," he said.

Rosalee Thurston was in a car with her husband and daughter when they saw "a puff of smoke in the sky and then flames as the balloon fell to the earth," she told TVOne News.

Another witness who asked not to be named said the balloon "clipped a power wire and tried to go up, then they've sort of gone across the road then it's caught fire."

Before the accident he had waved to the balloonists as they passed overhead.

"Then I heard the screams and looked out the window and heard it coming down. .. I heard them, they sounded like screams of joy but they weren't," he said.

"I ran down the road to see if I could help but by that stage it was too late. It was just burned out," he told the "Stuff" news web site.

The stricken balloon hit power lines as it fell, causing electricity cuts in the local area for about 20 minutes, officials said.

Police said they have no details yet of what caused the early morning crash in clear, bright conditions with minimal wind. The region is well known for its hot air ballooning.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, international EMS, New Zealand

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Las Vegas Fire, AMR Reach New Deal

Tentative agreement reached over ambulance calls.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Fire Damages Several Homes in California Earthquake

Four homes destroyed and others damaged after quake rattles Napa.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Image Trend: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ImageTrend just challenged NEMSIS TAC and a couple others.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.?

A.J. Heightman participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a big way!
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Over 100 Injured in California Earthquake

172 patients treated at Napa hospital after 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Numerous Rescues during Arizona Flooding

Severe flooding across the region prompted several rescues.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >