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 ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Mechanical CPR is Producing Resuscitation Results Beyond Expectations

Discover why clinical studies are finding mechanical CPR just as effective as optimally-performed CPR.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

New Technology Helps Missouri Ambulances

Strategic GPS tracking helps in Springfield.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Profile: Hospital Wing Air Ambulance

Take a look inside this Memphis service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Monitors for Wyoming EMS

Grant helps Torrington EMS get new equipment.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

London Medics Increasingly Attacked

One medic describes her violent confrontation.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Violence, Arson in Ferguson

Crowds in Ferguson and elsewhere react to decision.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

California Bus Rollover

One killed and dozens injured.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Buffalo Residents Dig Out and Prepare for Flooding

Flooding expected as heavy snow melts.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

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


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
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 >