DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, (AP) – A hot air balloon carrying 14 people crashed early Sunday in the desert south of Dubai, killing at least two.
Aviation authorities said the accident happened at 6:45 a.m. local time near Suwaihan, a village surrounded by farms and date plantations about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Dubai.
The nationalities of those killed are Indian and French, according to the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority.
At least two other people were injured in the crash, with one in serious condition, authorities said.
The balloon was operated by Balloon Adventures Emirates, said the sightseeing company’s director, Peter Kollar. He said passengers were taken to the hospital in Al Ain, a nearby oasis city on the border with Oman.
Kollar said a sudden change of wind struck the balloon as it came in to land.
“It was a freak wind change,” Kollar said. “The balloon did not fall out of the sky. It happened at landing.”
He said one of the company’s pilots was at the helm, but did not have information about those killed and injured. He said the company was working with local investigators.
Dubai-based Balloon Adventures operates early morning desert sightseeing trips from a launch site in the remote area near where the crash occurred.
The company describes itself on its website as “the most experienced balloon company in the world,” with other operations in Germany, New Zealand and Hungary. It says it is licensed by Emirati authorities and regularly tests its balloons during routine maintenance.