11 killed as hot air balloon crashes in Carterton
Sat, 07 Jan 2012 8:33a.m.
Emergency services are responding to an accident in Carterton, north of Wellington, involving a hot air balloon, with 11 people killed.
The balloon was operated by Early Morning Balloons and was carrying one pilot with 10 passengers.
The balloon caught fire and came down on Somerset Rd at Clareville near Carterton at around 7.30 this morning.
Witnesses say the balloon came down in flames, hitting a power pole near the Clareville showgrounds and knocking out power to parts of Carterton.
The pilot of the balloon was local truancy officer Lance Hopping, who was an experienced pilot with more than 1000 hours of commercial flying.
Somerset resident Jane Giles told RadioLIVE this morning she was shocked by the sight.
“I saw the balloon up in the air. As usual I stood there and admired it,” she says.
“I went back inside and the next time I looked out there was just a plume of smoke down the end of the road.”
Local resident David McKinlay said he was watering the garden of his home on the northern boundary of Carterton at 7.40am when he looked up toward the northeast.
"I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," he said.
"There were flames licking up the basket on one side, up towards the guy ropes of the balloon itself and probably just about reaching the fabric of the balloon," he told NZ Newswire.
Mr McKinlay ran inside to alert emergency services.
"When I got back out I could just see the mass of flame where the actual balloon was on fire. It had completely disintegrated and it was just a long - probably 10 or 15 metres long - trail of flame coming in toward the ground at colossal speed," he said.
The victims are a mix of locals and visitors.
The incident is one of the worst air accidents in New Zealand since 1979.
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8/01/2012 2:03:59 a.m.
Rick Maddock wrote:
Shocked, I cried, we (my brother, sister and I ) bought my Mum a balloon ride for her birthday in UK. She had a marvellous time, but for these poor people a happy event ended in tragedy. My heart is still crying.
7/01/2012 8:25:09 p.m.
S HIra wrote:
My heart and prayers go out to all the families that have lost a love one in this tragic accident.
7/01/2012 5:05:22 p.m.
Rip, i cant imagine your pain, god bless
7/01/2012 3:14:29 p.m.
I wish to express the sincere condolences to both family and friends that have had their world turned up side down by this tragict accident
7/01/2012 12:14:42 p.m.
melanie brown wrote:
my sincere thoughts and prayers go out to all the people who have lost loved one's in this tragic accident.
7/01/2012 11:03:27 a.m.
R Heaton wrote:
Absolutely tragic! My heart goes out to all the people involved. I had brought my husband a hot air balloon ride last January for his birthday and can only say Lance and his staff were absolute professionals in every way. I can only imagine what friends and family of the victims must be going through at this moment, and my thoughts are with them.
7/01/2012 9:39:04 a.m.
Sincere condolences to families and friends.
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