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'No foul play in Egypt balloon blast'

Posted on Feb 27, 10:13PM | IANS

Luxor (Egypt), Feb 27 : An initial investigation into the blast and crash of a balloon that killed 19 tourists in Egypt' s southern Luxor has ruled out criminal conspiracy behind the accident, Luxor prosecution said Wednesday.

"The initial probe pointed to no criminal suspicion, but the condition of the balloon was too bad. The civil aviation ministry should be responsible for the accident because the balloon companies are related to the ministry," Mamdouh Khaled, Luxor security chief, told Xinhua.

Witnesses and tourists told the prosecution that the balloon's pilot tried to land but failed to do so before the blast occurred.

Sources close to the Sky Cruise company that owned the balloon told Xinhua that the pilot had reported a problem with the helium cylinder to the ground controller and tried to land the balloon.

The investigations are still underway, officials said.

Nineteen tourists were killed and two injured in the balloon explosion Tuesday morning in Egypt's Luxor governorate. The dead included nine from China's Hong Kong, four Japanese, two Britons, two Frenchmen, one Egyptian and one Hungarian.