NSW woman survives fatal air balloon crash in Egypt

Lake Illawarra woman Vanessa Condran survives fatal air balloon crash in Egypt


A hot air balloon flying over an ancient temple on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt, 2016.  Photo: AMR NABIL Inset: Vanessa Condran

A hot air balloon flying over an ancient temple on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt, 2016. Photo: AMR NABIL Inset: Vanessa Condran

Aa

Lake Illawarra woman Vanessa Condran, 31, was among those aboard.

Aa

A Lake Illawarra woman is among the survivors of a fatal air balloon crash in Egypt. 

The balloon’s pilot lost control in high winds near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor after taking off around sunrise on Friday (Friday, 3pm AEDT). The crash claimed the life of a South African man. 

Vanessa Condran, 31, was among those aboard.

In a post to social media she reported: “I am alright - a few bumps and bruises. And probably will never set foot in another hot air balloon ever again. I feel lucky to have walked out of this traumatic experience, a scary freak accident”. 

Ms Condran is in the midst of a four-week solo overseas adventure. She is travelling in Egypt as part of a tour group. 

Read more: ‘His face was blue’ – Bulli drowning survivor critical

Her grandmother, Warilla's Marie Condran, said she had telephoned her mother in the immediate aftermath of the crash. 

"She's one of the ones that wasn't knocked out and unconscious," Mrs Condran told the Mercury. 

“She said she was OK, but had some [pain] with her neck and something with her finger from where she was hanging onto the rope. She was hanging onto some other girl who was hysterical.

"There were people hurt everywhere." 

Ms Condran tours the pyramids at Cairo in a picture posted to social media on New Year's Eve.

Ms Condran tours the pyramids at Cairo in a picture posted to social media on New Year's Eve.

A former volunteer with Warilla Barrack Point Surf Life Saving Club, Ms Condran used her first aid skills, trying in vain to help the most seriously injured passenger, Mrs Condran said.  

"It was 10 or 15 minutes before anybody got there to help.” 

"She got him in the recovery position. She had him on his side and tried to help him but she knew he wasn't very good."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed a number of Australians were involved in the crash. 

The balloon took off around sunrise and flew about 45 minutes at an altitude of 450 metres before the pilot lost control over a mountainous area, officials said, adding that the pilot was also injured.

High winds and sandstorms hit regions across the country, clouding the skies at Cairo's main airport and forcing the closure of a number of Red Sea ports.

An Argentinian and two French tourists were being treated in hospital, a health ministry spokesman said. Health officials and state media had earlier said a woman died.

A number of other tourists were also taken to Luxor International Hospital but released after a few hours, the ministry said.

Vanessa Condran (left, pictured with Cara Mura and twin sister Hayley Condran as the trio prepared for Surf Life Saving's 2005 Country Championships) used her first aid skills during Friday's emergency at Luxor. Picture: David Tease

Vanessa Condran (left, pictured with Cara Mura and twin sister Hayley Condran as the trio prepared for Surf Life Saving's 2005 Country Championships) used her first aid skills during Friday's emergency at Luxor. Picture: David Tease

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.

The balloon had deviated from its planned path and crashed with 20 tourists on board, the local Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.

Twenty-one other balloon trips carrying more than 400 tourists had all landed safely on Friday, it added.

Luxor has a history of hot air balloon crashes.

The deadliest took place in 2013 when a balloon flying over the city caught fire and plunged about 305 metres, crashing into a sugar cane field and killing at least 19 foreign tourists. Ballooning experts say the accident was the worst in the sport's 200-year history.

In 2016, Egypt temporarily halted balloon flights after 22 Chinese tourists suffered minor injuries in a crash landing.

Over the years, Egypt has tightened safety rules for balloon rides, which are now monitored by cameras and banned from flying above 2000 metres.

The Civil Aviation Ministry said Friday's crash is being investigated. It said 22 balloons carrying more than 400 people had taken off and landed safely on Friday.

Sandstorms lashed wide parts of the country, including Cairo, Sinai and coastal areas overlooking the Red sea, the national weather forecasting agency said.

Luxor governor Mohamed Badr ordered the closure of all highways linking to other provinces due to poor visibility.

Staff at Cairo International Airport said they were on high alert because of the strong winds and storms, though no trips were cancelled or rescheduled.

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. 

The hot air balloon flights are popular as a vantage point for the ancient Karnak Temple and other historical sites.

- Reuters, AAP

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by