August 23, 2012 / 4:46 PM / 7 years ago

Hot-air balloon crashes in Slovenia, four killed

IG, Slovenia (Reuters) - A hot-air balloon carrying tourists, including children, plunged to the ground in flames on Thursday just outside the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, killing four people and injuring 28, the police said.

A police officer stands near a crashed hot-air balloon in Ig near Ljubljana August 23, 2012. Four people were killed and 28 injured when the balloon carrying tourists, including children, caught fire and came down near the Slovenian capital Ljubljana on Thursday, the police said. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

The balloon was ablaze when firemen arrived at the scene of the crash, firefighters’ chief Tomaz Kucic told the official STA news agency.

“We were landing but I think the speed was too high. We hit the ground, bounced off once, and hit it again. We held on but five of us fell out,” a survivor, Tomaz Simec, told the Slovenian television Kanal A.

“After that, I no longer remember.”

Police recovered the four bodies of those killed, charred beyond recognition, STA reported.

Six children were among the injured, according to Slovenian news website 24ur.

Most of the 32 people on board - 30 passengers, a pilot and a co-pilot - were Slovenian nationals, with three Italians and one Briton, a police spokeswoman told Reuters television. All 32 were accounted for.

A short video on the 24ur website showed a police helicopter hovering above a cornfield at Ig, a suburb just outside Ljubljana where the balloon hit the ground at 8 a.m. (0600GMT)

The area was cordoned off by police, who combed it for hours with dogs in search of the victims.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. STA said the balloon had requested permission to land about 15 minutes before it crashed.

“We do not know what caused the accident and the investigation is still ongoing,” the police spokeswoman said.

Balloon rides are a popular tourist activity in Slovenia.

Rides can last up to several hours and typically leave early morning or late afternoon, according to the website of the country’s tourist board.

Reporting by Suzana Sabljic and Zoran Radosavljevic; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo

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