Hot air balloon crash kills 16 in US

The Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a statement that commiserating with the victims of the crash.

Bartch also said Nichols was cautious about keeping his passengers safe and that at least two vehicles would follow the balloon on the ground.

Sumwalt said the NTSB has not yet located a passenger manifest for the flights. All sixteen people on board were killed. Earlier, the highest number of fatalities in a single United States hot air balloon crash was just 6.

- October 3, 1982: An explosion on board a hot air balloon carrying nine people at a festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, killed four people and injured five. Sumwalt, who spoke to the AP while waiting to board a plane to Texas, said the team was still trying to gather basic information about the accident.

Saturday's crash was one of the worst hot air balloon accidents on record.

In all, agency records show four balloon crashes this year before Saturday's accident in 2016, including one in which a ground crew member was killed while trying to secure a basket during an unintentional liftoff in NY. The site of the crash appears to be right below the overhead lines, though authorities haven't provided further details about what happened.

A Texas hot air balloon business owner who also does inspections says the balloon that crashed, killing 16, had "very good equipment, very new equipment".

An official with the Texas Department of Public Safety said that investigators believe the hot air balloon struck power lines and caught fire.

Another Facebook user took to Facebook to say that two cousins had passed away in the accident and provided a photo of the pair on a hot air balloon together.

Local ballooner remembers pilot lost in deadly crash
The Latest: NTSB looking for cellphone videos of balloon

Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement that the accident happened about 8.40am local time on Saturday near Lockhart, Texas, when the hot air balloon crashed into a pasture.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board are rushing to the scene to investigate.

Margaret Wylie was letting her dog out at the time of the crash when she heard popping sounds like a gun going off.

Robert Sumwalt, a member of the NTSB, told the newspaper investigators are looking into the cause of the crash.

According to Austin, Texas station KVUE-TV, the company has stated that its chief pilot, Skip Nichols, was at the controls when the hot air balloon hit the power lines and crashed.

Numerous calls to Heart of Texas operations manager Sarah Nichols, 72, rang unanswered, and a woman in Missouri believed to be the pilot's sister did not return phone calls.

Sixteen deaths ranks as one of the worst hot-air balloon crashes in history, surpassed only by a crash in Luxor, Egypt, in February 2013 that killed 19 people. "I've taken photos of it, it's just hard for me to believe right now that something so handsome and so peaceful could end so tragic", said Cyrier.

As recently as March, the NTSB criticized the FAA for its inaction and reiterated its recommendations, citing that 25 balloon accidents had occurred since the 2014 letter was delivered.

  • Joey Payne