A collision of two hot air balloons in Central Turkey on Monday left three Brazilian tourists dead and 22 others hurt, according to reports.
The fateful accident happened over the jagged rock formations of Cappadocia as one balloon's wicker basket slashed into another's bag in mid-air, Nevsehir provincial governor Abdurrahman Savas told news agency Anatolia.
Citing eye witness accounts, the governor said "The lower balloon was torn and fell quickly."
Owner of the hot-air balloon Halil Uluer went down immediately after the accident and expressed "shock" over the tragedy. He said the pilot had taken all the necessary safety measures.
"These types of flights have been happening safely in Cappadocia for 20 years," Uluer told Anatolia.
Two casualties of the incident included Brazilian senior citizens aged 71 and 65 who died on the spot. The others sustained injuries like broken bones, Mr. Savas said.
Another Brazilian, aged 76, died hours later after being brought to the hospital. According to reports from Anatolia, others injured included "ten Spaniards, seven Brazilians, three Argentines, a Portuguese and a Puerto Rican."
The injured tourists are said to be part of a big South American group that is on a holiday in the region.
Turkish television reported that an investigation on the accident has already been launched by authorities.
Hot-air ballooning has become increasingly popular in Turkey with several companies offering balloon aircraft rides over Cappadocia, a popular tourist attraction known for its cone-shaped rock patterns, rock-sculpted underground settlements and old Christian churches.
The hot-air balloon industry has grown tremendously over the last 10 years, according to theTurkish website. At present, there are reportedly 20 different companies operating around 140 balloons, providing employment to roughly 1,400 people.
Just last February, another hot-air balloon exploded in Luxor, Egpyt leaving 19 people dead.
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