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Three tourists injured in hot air ballon crash in Sharjah.

Sharjah: Sharjah Police are investigating a hot air balloon accident that happened on Friday and left three tourists injured, Gulf News has learnt.

The hot air balloon went down suddenly in Al Badayer area, a Sharjah Police officer told Gulf News.

The officer said, "We're looking into what happened to determine if any violations occurred."

The police operations room received call on Friday night saying that three foreign tourists were injured when a balloon suddenly went down.

The police official said they are investigating whether the pilot might have committed any violations, but any penalties imposed would be civil rather than criminal.

The police are trying to see if the company has a licence to operate balloons in the area.

"It's an ongoing investigation at this time, and there really isn't anything I can tell you about it," the officer said.

A medical official says that three tourists were admitted to Al Dhaid Hospital after the accident in Al Badayer area, popular for dune bashing and other recreational activities. Names and nationalities of the victims were not immediately known.

The tourists are out of danger and they received treatment at the hospital and were expected to be discharged soon.

Meanwhile, Captain Tareq Al Omari, a Jordanian hot air balloon pilot of 21 years, said hot air balloons, if properly flown and maintained, are a safe means of recreational flying. He was surprised to learn that a balloon was flown on Friday since all hot air balloon operations are temporarily stopped during the summer months.

"Hot air balloons are not flown here from May to September because of the heat, which could reach 30 degrees Celsius even in the morning. The heat affects the balloon and the operation. The heat and humidity also affect the passenger's safety and comfort during the flight," Al Omari told Gulf News.

Generally, if a balloon is inflated correctly with heated air, it will rise in cooler air because hot air is lighter than cool air. The balloon will then fly at the height and speed desired by the pilot.

Two factors may cause a crash: weather and the balloon's condition or if it hits an obstacle like power lines.

"A balloon may fall if there is not enough heated air to maintain the flight or if the fabric of the balloon itself is damaged or there's a cut in the fabric [where heated air could escape]. In weather-related problems, the balloon can fly uncontrollably," he said.

"The pilot can always fly at a certain rate of descent for the balloon to land without making a hard landing if the weather is good."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 7, 2015
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