A hot-air balloon erupted in flames and plummeted into a western Canada camp ground, killing two people as their relatives watched, police said on Saturday.
The commercially-operated balloon was just rising with 14 people on board Friday in Surrey, near Vancouver, when it caught fire, sending passengers leaping over the rails to the ground, some with clothes burning.
The balloon then rocketed into the sky before being consumed in flames and raining down debris, according to witnesses.
Two people reported missing Friday night were confirmed dead Saturday by local police. Eleven people were injured, Canada Television news reported.
CNN news reported that those killed were a mother and her daughter. Police cited by other media declined to identify the dead out of sympathy for grieving relatives, who had been watching the balloon's flight when the accident struck.
Witnesses told local media that passengers began leaping from the balloon, operated by British Colombia-based Fantasy Balloon Charters, when it rose to about six meters (20 feet).
Surrey police officer Roger Morrow said something caught fire as the balloon rose, sending up a plume of smoke that could be seen for kilometres.
John Kageorge, spokesman for Fantasy Balloon Charters, told Canada's CBC television that as it departed the balloon kept to a low altitude. But then when passengers began to jump out from the basket, it quickly leaped higher into the air before collapsing in flames.
Kageorge also told CNN television he did not know what sparked the fire, and said the pilot had experience with balloons, airplanes and helicopters.
Last Mod: 26 Ağustos 2007, 11:39