UPDATE: Five people are dead after a hot-air balloon crashes in New Mexico
Elizabeth Joseph and Alaa Elassar, CNN
Published at | Updated at
(CNN) — Five people have died following a hot-air balloon crash in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday.
The balloon crashed into a power line around Central Avenue and Unser Boulevard, causing power to go out in the area, Albuquerque Police Department (APD) confirmed on Twitter.
“The balloon hit the top wires — the gondola of the balloon skirted along the top wire, caught on fire and crashed into the intersection,” APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told CNN. “Unfortunately when police and fire officials arrived they found four deceased on site.”
A fifth person was critically injured and hospitalized, but succumbed to his injuries, police said. Of the five people that were killed, three were men and two were women, Albuquerque Police confirmed in a statement.
“Liz and I are heartbroken by the ballooning accident this morning,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller tweeted. “This is a terrible tragedy for our city and the ballooning community worldwide.”
Police are not publicly naming the victims at this time, but Gallegos said the deceased are between 40 and 60 years old, adding that police believe the hot-air balloon pilot to be among the dead.
“It’s just a very tragic situation,” Gallegos said, the Albuquerque Journal reported. “Our officers who arrived first on scene had a tough time when they saw what they saw. These things are just horrible anytime they happen.”
Power has been fully restored to affected customers in the area of the incident, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) spokesperson Shannon Jackson told CNN.
More than 13,000 people in the area experienced outages as a result of the incident, according to PNM, which bills itself as the city’s first electric and gas operations company.
“Everyone at PNM is deeply saddened by this tragic loss,” Jackson said. “We are thinking about the family and friends affected by today’s events. We will continue to do everything we can to support first responders in this evolving situation.”
PNM was not able to re-energize the transmission line affected by the crash or restore power until the investigation was complete, Jackson said.
“I’m incredibly saddened to hear of this terrible tragedy in Albuquerque,” New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted. “My prayers are with the loved ones of those affected.”
Albuquerque Fire and the New Mexico State Police are on the scene, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate what caused the hot-air balloon to crash, according to police.
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