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UPDATE: Three Thomas Cook clients killed in balloon crash

Thomas Cook confirmed this morning that two of its clients were among 19 people killed in a hot air balloon crash close to the Egyptian city of Luxor on the banks of the River Nile this morning.

It said a further two of its guests were taken to hospital following the crash, one of whom has sice died.

Thomas Cook UK CEO Peter Frankhauser said: "What happened in Luxor this morning is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of everyone in Thomas Cook are with our guests, their family and friends. 

"We have a very experienced team in resort with the two guests in the local hospital, and we're providing our full support to the family and friends of the deceased at this difficult time."

Thomas Cook UK has opened a hot line for concerned relatives who have guests in resort - 0800 107 5638. It is working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the authorities in Egypt, it said.

The balloon was flying at 1,000 feet when it apparently caught fire and exploded, crashing into a field.

US news channel NBC quoted a Luxor health official saying that the victims include two from the UK, nine from Hong Kong, four from Japan and two from France. Two have yet to be identified.

Thomas Cook has temporarily suspended hot air balloon rides in Egypt while an investigation takes place. It said that, along with other holiday companies, it had promoted "reputable suppliers" of balloon rides to its customers.

Hot air ballooning is a popular way for tourists to see Luxor's famous sites, such as Karnak temple and the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, but flights were temporarily suspended in April 2009 following an accident which injured 16 tourists.

All 42 pilots from the eight companies that offered balloon flights were retrained during the six-month suspension and flights resumed in November 2009.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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