16 in­jured as hot-air bal­loon hits a tree

The Herald - - INTERNATIONAL -

A HOT-AIR bal­loon landed heav­ily af­ter hit­ting a tree north of Syd­ney, in­jur­ing 16 peo­ple.

The bal­loon was car­ry­ing a pi­lot and 24 pas­sen­gers when it landed in a field in Hunter Val­ley shortly af­ter hit­ting the tree, Pro­fes­sional Bal­loon­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia spokesman Damian Crock said.

The health depart­ment said 16 pas­sen­gers were treated at a hospi­tal and at least 12 had been dis­charged late yes­ter­day.

Their in­juries in­cluded sus­pected spinal dam­age and bro­ken bones. None of the in­juries was life-threat­en­ing, an am­bu­lance of­fi­cial said.

Tele­vi­sion re­ports showed branches strewn on the ground from a eu­ca­lyp­tus tree the bal­loon stuck and fo­liage still cling­ing to its bas­ket af­ter land­ing.

The cir­cum­stances of the land­ing will be ex­am­ined by gov­ern­ment crash in­ves­ti­ga­tors, said Mr Crock.

The bal­loon’s op­er­a­tor, Bal­loon Sa­faris, did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a phone call seek­ing com­ment.

In Jan­uary, four pas­sen­gers were taken to hospi­tal when a Bal­loon Sa­faris flight made a heavy land­ing in Hunter Val­ley.

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