Four Dutch tourists – two couples in their 50s – were killed in an accident involving a hot air balloon at a popular tourist spot in China on Wednesday.
One other Dutch tourist and two Chinese were injured in the incident but their injuries are not said to be serious.
According to the NRC, the balloon was one of three carrying a party of 18 Dutch tourists and was landing after a trip of some 45 minutes.
It is still not clear exactly what happened. News agencies say the balloon exploded some 200m above the ground. However, eyewitness Wim Verwoerd, who was in another balloon, told the NRC the balloon had landed on a grave mound where a funeral was taking place.
‘It is bizarre that their balloon landed on the grave mound a the moment a funeral involving lots of fireworks was underway,’ he told the paper.
The NRC quotes him as saying that the basket fell over on landing and hit the flames. Two people fell out and the balloon then shot up into the air because of the difference in weight. There was definitely not an explosion, Verwoerd told the paper. He suspects the couple may have jumped.
According to media reports, the company operating the balloons had only been licenced for a couple of months.
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