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Saturday, January 7

Govt offers condolences after tragic balloon crash

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has expressed his condolences on behalf of the Government to the families and loved ones of the 11 people who lost their lives in a hot air ballooning tragedy near Carterton in the Wairarapa this morning.

“We are deeply sorry to learn of this tragic accident and our hearts go out to those who are now mourning the loss of life,” Mr Brownlee said.

“The accident will be thoroughly investigated by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, the Civil Aviation Authority and Police on behalf of the Coroner.”

The Commission has opened its inquiry, with the first two of up to four investigators due at the scene before midday.

Mr Brownlee said rules for the commercial operation of hot air balloons were part of a recently completed review into adventure tourism in New Zealand.

“Experts will be looking to learn any lessons from the investigations which have begun today which can help improve safety for others in the future,” Mr Brownlee said.

New Civil Aviation Rule Part 115, which includes the commercial operation of hot air balloons, is available on the Civil Aviation Authority website at: www.caa.govt.nz/rules/nprms_closed.htm