Pilot charged over deadly balloon crash
THE pilot of a hot-air balloon crash that claimed the life of a South African man and injured seven Australians in Egypt is being held in custody after being charged with neglect.
Pilot Baligh Hamdy, Mohamed El Gohary, Company Director Hany El Sayed and Essam Hassan, Director of the Balloon Airport in Luxor, have all been charged with neglect for carrying 22 tourists instead of the authorised number of 20.
The four could remain in jail for 50 days until investigations are completed.
In total, 15 people were injured after the pilot lost control in high winds near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor after taking off around sunrise on Friday. South African Daryn GenWeigle, 34, died in the crash.
The seven Australians - Zoe Drinkwater, 22, Newcastle, Vanessa Condran, 31, from the Illawarra, Montanna Leveque, 20, and River Kano, 21, from Melbourne and Emma Forster, 24, from Alice Springs, Adele Jayde from Melbourne and Morgan Adams from Victoria - have all been released from hospital.
It is understood some have continued with their travel plans, and others were planning to return home.
Abd El Gwad Amin, the assistant director of general administration of tourism and antiquities for south Upper Egypt, said balloon flights were back to normal with 10 flights going up on Sunday.
He said the tourists' injuries were simple and most of them had been released from Luxor International Hospital on Friday evening and they had travelled to Cairo, as already planned in their travel program.
Head of Luxor Balloon Hisham Al Disoky said the company didn't receive any request from any party on board to cancel the trip ahead of the predicted bad weather.
He said the weather was suitable for takeoff, and this was backed up by the Meteor Tower of Luxor International Airport.
He said the wind speed was zero on takeoff but grew to 27km/h, a dangerous speed for hot air balloons and this forced a hard landing which resulted in the death and multiple injuries.
However, Al Disoky denied the pilot had made a mistake, saying that what happened was "meant to be" due to the sudden change of the weather and the balloon pilot didn't fall short of his duty.
Of those injured, two remain in hospital.
French citizen Piper Pirst, 45, suffered a dislocation in the left leg and a wounded
chin, and Victor Matios, a 52-year-old Argentinian, suffered a broken vertebrae in the back.
A health spokesman from Luxor International Hospital said the South Africa Embassy is co-ordinating the repatriation of GenWeigle.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority Company Committee is investigating the accident.