Hot air balloons – are they worth the risk?


A spectator watches the hot air balloon night glow during the 32nd Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol on August 12, 2010.



Tuesday’s deadly hot air balloon crash in the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor is one of the worst ballooning accidents in history.

The crash killed 19 foreign tourists and dealt a fresh blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which has been gutted by the country’s turmoil in the past two years.

The tragedy also raises fresh concerns about the safety of ballooning in Egypt after a spate of accidents in recent years, including a crash in April 2009 that left 16 people injured.

But – unfortunately – hot air balloon mishaps happen all over the world.

More from GlobalPost: Egypt: Death toll from hot air balloon crash in Luxor rises to 19 foreign tourists (VIDEO)

Since 1964 there have been more than 700 hot air balloon accidents in the United States, the vast majority of which were not fatal, the Associated Press reported, citing figures from the National Transportation Safety Board.

In the most recent incident, a hot air balloon carrying a wedding party crash landed in a backyard in San Diego. The 13 people on board survived the accident and only one person required treatment for injuries.

A hot air balloon crash in New Zealand last year killed 11 people.

And in 1989 two hot air balloons collided near Alice Springs in central Australia, killing 13 people.

So, should tourists avoid hot air ballooning?

Statistics suggest there are far greater risks to the lives of holidaymakers than a hot air balloon flight.

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, road accidents are the leading cause of death for US citizens traveling overseas, accounting for 32 percent of tourist fatalities from 2007 through 2009. 

That was followed by homicide (18 percent), drowning (14 percent) and suicide.

“Motor vehicle crashes – not crime or terrorism – are the number one killer of healthy US citizens traveling in foreign countries,” the CDC said.

The CDC said “other unintentional injuries,” including aviation accidents and drug-related incidents, accounted for more than one-third of all US tourist deaths.

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