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Hot air balloon crash-landing hurls 16 from basket

February 9, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

An unexpected wind change is thought to have been behind a sudden hot-air balloon “hard landing” in Victoria’s Yarra Valley yesterday that flung 16 people out of a basket and sent seven of them to three hospitals.

Some of the injuries were serious. Melbourne’s Age newspaper reported that a woman in her 60s suffered abdominal and back injuries, a man in his 60s suffered back, neck and ankle injuries and a man in his 70s injured his back. All were taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Two women in their 50s were taken to Marnoondah Hospital while two others, a woman in her 60s with suspected ankle fractures and a man in his 20s with back injuries, were whisked to Box Hill Hospital.

A paramedic told the paper he found several passengers walking around the scene, while others were lying on the ground injured and in pain.

He said it was lucky that fewer than half of the passengers needed to be taken to hospital.

Screenshot from Channel 7 shows paramedics at the scene

The report quoted Damian Crock, a spokesman for Victoria’s hot air balloon industry, saying he had been in contact with the pilot who had told him the flight encountered unexpected conditions before the crash.

Ballooning over the Yarra wineries is a highly popular tourist activity. The balloon was operated by Go Wild Ballooning, which has been providing balloon flights in the region since 1989 and describes itself as the Yarra Valley’s first-established ballooning company.

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will be investigating. It stated yesterday:

The ATSB is investigating the hard landing of a Kavanagh Balloon registered VH-EUA, near Yarra Glen, Victoria on 8 February 2018.

During landing, the balloon bounced twice and landed hard. Seven people were taken to hospital, some with serious injuries.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview crew and passengers, and gather additional information.

A final report will be released at the end of the investigation.

Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue.

Written by Peter Needham

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