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Four Dutch Tourists Die in Hot-air Balloon Crash in South China
Update: 10/14/2009 10:58:00 PM Source: China Travel

Rescuers work at the scene where a hot-air balloon caught fire and crashed on Wednesday, October 14, 2009, in Maling township of Lipu county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Four Dutch tourists - three men and one woman - died during the accident. Another Dutch tourist was injured and has been taken to hospital. [Photo: Xinhua]

Four Dutch tourists -- two couples -- died early Wednesday when a hot-air balloon caught fire and crashed in Guilin, a popular tourist destination in south China.

Five passengers, all from the Netherlands, and two Chinese pilots were aboard when the accident occurred in Maling Township of Lipu County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Former reports said three men and a woman died. Police confirmed Wednesday afternoon that two couples -- two men and two women -- had died.

Their bodies had been sent to a local funeral house and Chinese authorities had contacted the Dutch side.

They had arrived at Beijing International Airport on Sept. 26 and their visas were valid until Oct. 26, according to the police.

The pilots and a Dutch tourist were injured and have been taken to hospital, an official of the Lipu county government told Xinhua.

The Dutch tourist was sent to a hotel Wednesday evening after treatment as his injury was not life-threatening.

The pilots were in stable condition.

The balloon belonged to the Dongguan Meixiang Aviation Club, based in neighboring Guangdong Province. It received an aviation management qualification in September 2008, a Central-South Bureau official of the Civil Aviation Administration of China told Xinhua.

The pilots lost control of the balloon after it took off from Yangshuo County. It flew over the neighboring Lipu County and caught fire 150 meters above Maling, said an official with the government of Guilin, which administers Yangshuo and Lipu.

The Lipu county government dispatched 400 people to search for the victims after receiving a report at 8:30 a.m. that the balloon had crashed.

All hot-air balloon and similar aviation businesses have been suspended in Yangshuo for a safety overhaul of all companies offering such services, according to the county's government.

Investigators from the local work safety watchdogs and public security bureaus were trying to find out those sharing responsibilities for the accident.

Yangshuo is a world-famous scenic spot and hot-air balloon flights are a popular activity, especially among foreign tourists.

Editor: canton fair

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