Egypt orders detention of four men over hot air balloon crash

CAIRO (Reuters) – The public prosecutor in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor ordered the detention of four men pending an investigation into a hot air balloon crash that killed a South African tourist and injured several others, state news agency MENA said on Saturday.

State media blamed Friday’s crash, near Luxor, on poor weather conditions.

High winds and sandstorms swept the country on Friday, clouding the skies at Cairo’s main airport and forcing the closure of a number of Red Sea ports.

MENA did not say if charges had been brought against the four men, who include the pilot. Judicial sources said an initial investigation suggested that negligence could have contributed to the crash.

A South African man died and an Argentinian and two French tourists were being treated in hospital. A number of other tourists were also taken to Luxor International Hospital but released after a few hours.

Luxor, a city surrounded by ancient tombs and other historic sites, is one of the main focuses of Egypt’s tourism industry – a key revenue-earner that the government has been trying to revive after years of political turmoil.

Nineteen people, most of them Asian and European tourists, died near Luxor in 2013 when a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed after a mid-air gas explosion.

Reporting by Mostafa Hashem and Mohamed Abdellah; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Ros Russell

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