Police cars block access to the site where a hot air balloon crashed early Saturday, July 30, 2016, near Lockhart, Texas. Photo / AP
A hot air balloon carrying 16 people has caught on fire and crashed in Texas, with local authorities saying it “does not appear” that there are any survivors.
“The balloon was occupied and it does not appear at this time that there were any survivors of the crash,” Daniel Law, the Caldwell County sheriff, said in a statement. “Investigators are determining the number and the identities of victims at this time.”
The crash took place near high-voltage power lines, though authorities have not yet speculated on its cause.
Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation
Administration said in a statement that the accident happened shortly after 7:40 am local time Saturday near Lockhart, Texas, when the hot air balloon crashed into a pasture.
Lunsford said that the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are going to the scene to investigate.
The cause the crash was not immediately known. There did not appear to be extreme weather in the area, with winds around 17km/h.Nearby roads have been closed and authorities have set up tents near the scene of the crash.
There are large high-voltage power lines over the area where the crash took place. A video taken by a witness appeared to show smoke pouring from an object caught in the power lines.
Greg Abbott, Texas’s governor, released a statement calling the crash a “heartbreaking tragedy”.
Lockhart is about 50km south of Austin. The crash took place in a rural area, made up of farmland with grazing livestock and open fields.
This appears to be the worst hot air balloon disaster since a 2013 crash in Luxor, Egypt that left 19 foreign tourists dead.
At least 16 people have been feared killed after a large hot air balloon caught fire and crashed into a field in the US
state of Texas.
The accident happened early Saturday morning near Lockhart, south of Austin, after a blaze broke out in the basket section of the balloon, according to Aviation officials.
“It does not appear at this time that there were any survivors,” the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office said.
Investigators have been sent to the scene to determine the number of victims and their identities.
“When the Emergency Responders and the Sheriff’s Office arrived it was apparent that the reported fire was the basket portion of a hot air balloon,” said the statement.
A photo was posted on social media reportedly showing the the balloon in the air with huge flames spurting underneath.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott expressed condolences to those affected by the crash and promised an investigation into the “heartbreaking tragedy.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, as well as the Lockhart community,” he said in a statement.
The incident is probably the second-deadliest balloon accident in history. The first hot air balloon crash occurred in Luxor, Egypt in 2013. The balloon caught fire when it was attempting to land. The accident killed 19 of the 21 passengers on board the balloon.