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June 27, 2021

Five people have died following a hot air balloon crash in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The accident occurred after the balloon was blown into power lines by a gust of wind, police said.

The pilot and three passengers were declared dead at the scene following the crash on Saturday morning.

A fifth person was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries before later passing away.

No one on the ground was injured.

 

According to the The Federal Aviation Administration, the gondola fell around 30 metres (100 feet) before crashing into the median on the road before bursting into flames.

The balloon itself flew away and landed on a residential roof.

Police say the deceased were aged between around 40 and 60, and three were men and two women.

Martin Martinez, 59, and Mary Martinez, 62, are among the dead.

"Shortly after 7am, officers received a call about a hot air balloon that crashed into power lines," Albuquerque Police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.

He added: "We know from experience here in Albuquerque that sometimes winds kick up or things happen that make it difficult for balloons to navigate."

 

Witness Joshua Perez said: "I just wish we could have done more to bring them back to life, you know.

"I don't think they suffered, you know when they hit the ground they were already gone because there was a big electricity spark."

Mr Perez said that he and others rushed to the scene with fire extinguishers after seeing the crash, and turned the propane tank off to prevent an explosion.

"The thing was just like on fire with the people in it," he added.

Mr Martinez had previously worked with the city's police force, and some officers who responded to the crash were sent home because of the toll it took on them.

Police chief Harold Medina said: "It really emphasised the point that no matter how big we think we are, we're still a tightknit community and incidents like this affect us all."

The FAA is investigating with police and the National Transportation Safety Board. The balloon went down about six miles west of Albuquerque International Sunport Airport.

Local media reported that around 13,000 homes were left without power following the crash.

 

Albuquerque is known for its hot air ballooning community, with a nine day festival in October drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Fatal accidents do happen, and in January this year a balloon passenger died after being thrown from a gondola during a hard landing in the region.

 







Source: Sky News
Image Source: Getty Images