Luxor Balloon
Balloon rides are a staple of the local tourist offering. []

Nineteen tourists were killed when a hot air balloon crashed in Luxor, Egypt. The victims were of French, British and Japanese nationals.

The balloon crashed in the sugar fields of Luxor, situated west of Cairo. A total 21 tourists had taken the hot air balloon for an early morning scenic view.

The balloon was supposedly flying at 1, 000 feet when it caught fire. The balloon's pilot along with two others survived the fatal crash.  

Officials told BBC that a gas cylinder on board the balloon exploded leading to the tragedy.  

An eyewitness, Cherry Tohamy, flying in another balloon, saw flames and explosion erupting just when her balloon landed.

"People were jumping out of the balloon from about the height of a seven-storey building." she told BBC.

The bodies of those killed were found scattered on the sugar fields near the remnants of the balloon. An AP reporter was said to have counted eight corpses before they were packed away in body bags.

The crash is one of the deadliest in the history of Egypt's tourism which has been in a fraying condition since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The Egyptian tourism industry has been plagued with hot air balloon accidents in the past. In April 2009, 16 persons were injured when their balloon came down. Seven people were injured a year before in a similar incident.