Six Killed in Ballooning Accident in France

A hot-air balloon burst into flames on Sunday, killing all six passengers, after coming too close to a high-voltage wire in the French Alps, firemen said.

Hundreds of people saw the balloon catch fire as it neared the 20,000-volt line, a fireman said. The heat from the line caused the balloon's gas tanks to explode, he added.

The wife of the pilot was following the flight in a car and saw the balloon strike the line, which was no more than 10 metres (yards) from the ground, before falling to earth, local radio reported.

Gilbert Lafaylle, Deputy Public Prosecutor of the nearby city of Albertville, said an investigation had been opened to determine the exact circumstances of the accident.

The passengers included five adults and a teenager. Four of the victims jumped out of the balloon's basket before it crashed in a field at around 0630 GMT in the department of Savoie, between the towns of Clery and Verrens-Arvey, local radio reported.

The balloon had taken off from the skating rink in Albertville, site of the 1992 Winter Olympics.

Fire service spokesman Captain Jean-Philippe Moiron said the balloon was in the process of landing when the accident happened.

People's Daily Online ---