Three dead in Cappadocia Balloon Accident-Turkey
Two hot air balloons were involved in a mid-air collision which resulted in the death of two Brazilian passengers and injuries to 23 others on Monday 20.05.13 during a morning flight in the Nevsehir province of the Cappadocia region, a popular tourist destination.
The damaged balloon is reported to have fallen near the Ortahisar area of Ürgüp. The balloons were flying above the popular scenic canyons and “fairy chimney” volcanic cones, a tourist destination some 300 kilometres from the capital, Ankara. The mayor of Nevsehir, Hasan Unver, was quoted in the Hurriyet Daily News as stating that the balloon sector would not be affected by the accident and that he would continue to fly tomorrow adding, quite astonishingly that, “These [accidents] are very ordinary incidents. More people die while doing parachuting or rafting. The risks are lower in the balloon sector.” We trust that something was lost in the translation.
Early reports suggested that the collision occurred at around 0600 local time when the lower balloon’s envelope contacted the basket of one above tearing it and causing it to partially deflate and descend at speed to the ground. The passengers were mainly tourists from Asia, Spain and Brazil. Reports stated that the impact resulted in injuries to 24 passengers, one serious, and the death of a Brazilian tourist. Later reports stated that an elderly person had since died. The dead, both Brazilians, have been identified as 71-year-old Maria Luiza Gomes, who died at the scene, and 65-year-old Mariua Rosas, who died later in hospital after the crash, according to the Doğan News Agency. As of 22.05.13 a further injured passenger had died bringing the total deaths to three.
The area is heavily flown by passenger ride operators and most mornings there at least two or three dozen balloons or more flying the area. Concerns have been raised in the past by UK pilots that have flown there, especially with regard to the close proximity to other balloons whilst flying and the lack of separation. With so many balloons vying for the best launch site for the prevailing wind to carry them over the most popular sites and the launch window it is not surprising that so many balloons end up in a relatively small area. The rule of the air for balloons is that the upper balloon must give way to the lower balloon however, until statements are received from the pilots and witnesses, the cause of the accident remains unknown.
Our sympathies go out to all those affected by the accident.