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Nine Injured in Balloon Crash Near Angkor Wat

  • Kong Sothanarith

Cambodia's Siem Reap-Angkor region is very popular with international tourists and dignitaries. Seen here, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (2nd L) walks during his visit to the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap November 16, 2012, after attending the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Retreat.

Cambodia's Siem Reap-Angkor region is very popular with international tourists and dignitaries. Seen here, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (2nd L) walks during his visit to the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap November 16, 2012, after attending the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Retreat.

The air balloon had reached an altitude of 300 meters when a strong wind pushed it down and into a palm tree.

PHNOM PENH - Nine foreign tourists were seriously injured near the temples of Angkor Wat on Tuesday, when the hot air balloon they had been aboard for sightseeing crashed in high wind, witnesses and police said.

The air balloon had reached an altitude of 300 meters when a strong wind pushed it down and into a palm tree, police said.

Three Russians, two Ukrainians, two Chinese and two Filipinos were aboard, along with a pilot, said one policeman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. All were rescued but they remain in serious condition at a nearby hospital, the policeman said.

“The wind hit it, and it hit a palm tree in the village of Areak Svay,” he said.

A witness near the crash confirmed that the balloon had gone done in the wind.

A Chinese company, which operates the balloon, could not be reached for comment.

Pat Sambo, head of the Federation of Tourism Unions, said there have been “several” smaller crashes since the balloon began operations, flying tourists up to view the sunset or overlook the city of Siem Reap.

“My boss recommends absolutely not to advise tourists to take [the balloon], for their safety,” he said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 28, 2013

An article on Wednesday about the balloon crash near Angkor Wat referred incorrectly to Sokha Hotel as the operator of the balloon. Instead, the balloon that crashed was operated by a Chinese company.
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