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The Journal Gazette

  • Relatives of tourists from Hong Kong killed in a hot air balloon accident gather at the site during a memorial ceremony for the victims in Luxor, Egypt, Saturday, March 2, 2013. Nineteen people were killed on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 in what appeared to be the deadliest hot air ballooning accident on record. The balloon was carrying 20 tourists from France, Britain, Belgium, Japan, Hong Kong, and an Egyptian pilot.(AP Photo/Ibrahim Zayed)

Saturday, March 02, 2013 2:00 pm

Egypt balloon pilots defend colleague in crash

By HAGGAG SALAMAAssociated Press

Hot air balloon pilots in Egypt's city of Luxor are defending their colleague who survived this week's fatal crash that killed 19 tourists.

Tuesday's crash was one of the world's deadliest ballooning accidents. Initial reports say the balloon was in the process of landing when a cable got caught around a gas tube and a fire erupted.

Pilots who know the Egyptian pilot, Momin Murad, say he has an eight-year track record of flying balloons without incident. The pilot, who sustained severe burns, and a British tourist were the only survivors.

In a press conference in Luxor Saturday, the pilots also defended Egypt's safety measures for the popular touristic activity, saying the company that operated the balloon that crashed had canceled trips the day before due to bad weather.