x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Balloon crash probe focuses on windy weather

Investigators looking into Sunday's deadly balloon crash are focusing on the windy weather that day.

A balloon being prepared for a flight by Balloon Adventures Emirates earlier this year.
A balloon being prepared for a flight by Balloon Adventures Emirates earlier this year.

ABU DHABI // Investigators looking into Sunday's deadly balloon crash are focusing on the windy weather that day. The director general of the General Civil Aviation Authority, Saif al Suwaidi, said the agency had not ruled out other causes for the crash that killed two people, but said "we mainly suspect the weather". The agency continued to collect statements from witnesses yesterday and to examine the crash site.

The UAE has no law governing balloon launches, but the operator, Balloon Adventures Emirates, could be found negligent if it flew the balloon in contradiction to the manufacturer's specifications. Mr al Suwaidi said he hoped the investigation would conclude with "strong evidence" about the causes of the crash, but declined to speculate on when the results might be released. The dawn balloon ride ended in tragedy when a gust of wind caught the craft, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in the desert about 50km outside Al Ain.

The families of an Indian man and a Frenchman who died were waiting yesterday for the bodies to be released for repatriation. The Indian has been identified as Mukesh Shah, a Mumbai businessman. A Tanzanian crew member remained in intensive care at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain. The balloon's pilot, a Polish man, is still being questioned by police.