Eleven people have been killed in New Zealand’s worst air accident for more than three decades. The victims died when a hot air balloon burst into flames and crashed in Carterton, some 80 kilometres north of Wellington on the country’s North Island.
It is a region well-known for hosting ballooning events and the tragedy has many people everyone hard.
Ron Mark, Mayor of Carterton said: “the ballooning fraternity is a very respected fraternity in Carterton. Ballooning is very popular here. We host a national event every year and we know we will know all the personnel involved.”
Witnesses say the balloon appeared to have clipped power lines before coming down fast in flames.
“One side of the basket was on fire and the flames were licking up towards possibly the cords to start the balloon. The impact must have been terrible. I was unbelievably shocked when I saw it, especially to think that I’ve been up in that balloon myself,” said tourist David McKinlay.
It is unclear what may have caused the crash. Authorities say an investigation is underway and that rules for commercial hot air ballooning have recently been reviewed.