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Mon Dec 22 03:26:06 SAST 2014

Criminal motive ruled out in Egypt hot air balloon crash

Sapa-dpa | 27 February, 2013 13:04
A resident walks near the wreckage of a hot air balloon that crashed in Luxor February 26, 2013.
Image by: MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY / REUTERS

A preliminary investigation has ruled out a criminal motive behind a hot air balloon crash that killed 19 people in Egypt, the official news agency reported Wednesday.

Investigators inspected the site of Tuesday's crash in the southern town of Luxor and questioned witnesses and a British tourist who survived the crash, said the report.

Most victims were foreign tourists, including nine from Hong Kong. The others killed were from Japan, France, Hungary and Britain, as well as one Egyptian tour guide.

The balloon caught fire Tuesday after a gas leak and exploded about 300 metres above the ground, according to technicians.

Only the pilot and the British tourist survived, said health authorities. The pilot was reported in serious condition.

Tourism accounted for around 9% of Egypt's economy before the 2011 uprising that forced Honsi Mubarak to resign as president and brought in an Islamist-led government.

The sector has since been in decline, amid political instability, insecurity and labour strikes.

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