Ljubljana: Four people were killed Thursday and over 18 injured, six of them seriously, when a hot air balloon crashed and caught fire in Slovenia, the country’s civil protection administration said.
Among the injured were a British woman and three Italians, the Ljubljana Clinical Centre where many of the injured were brought, also said.
Police confirmed that “a few foreigners” were among the passengers and said an investigation was underway.
The incident occurred at around 8:00 am local time some 12 kilometres south of the capital Ljubljana, a spokesman for the country’s civil protection administration disaster relief administration said.
He added the balloon was carrying 30 passengers along with the pilot and co-pilot, but could not give any details on the victims.
Slovenian news agency STA reported that the hot-air balloon had hit a tree in a storm and burst into flames, adding that police were still looking for missing people.
Police meanwhile said six children were among the passengers of the air balloon, but were unable to give details about their condition.
“The first doctor who arrived at the accident site confirmed he found four calcinated bodies,” the civil protection administration spokesman was quoted by STA in Ig, near the accident site.
At a separate news conference, the Ljubljana Clinical Centre confirmed that 21 passengers had been hospitalised there, of which “eight remain in critical condition.”
“Those hospitalised are aged between 10 and 60 years old, some of them are foreigners: a British woman and three Italians,” the hospital said.
Police spokeswoman Maja Adlesic told AFP: “The injured passengers were taken to various hospitals so we do not have all the information yet.”
One injured man told the news website 24ur that the gondola carrying the passengers had hit the ground extremely fast, throwing out some of the passengers before taking off again, this time in flames.