TIME Accident

2 Found Dead in Fiery Hot Air Balloon Crash

At least two people are dead after a hot air balloon exploded in eastern Virginia. Residents said they heard screams as the horrific incident unfolded

Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET Saturday

Two people are dead and one remains missing after a hot air balloon hit a power line, caught fire and then exploded and crashed in eastern Virginia Friday.

Police have recovered two bodies and are still searching for one missing occupants, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said during a Saturday press conference. The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday it’s investigating the incident.

The doomed hot air balloon was one of three which took off shortly before 8 p.m. local time Friday. The balloons were attempting to land when one hit a power line, NBC News reports. After striking the line, the troubled balloon’s pilot took emergency steps to control the blaze. However, the vehicle rose quickly into the air and exploded before the gondola and balloon could be separated.

A local resident told NBC she witnessed the fire and heard passengers in the balloon calling for help. “They were just screaming for anybody to help them. ‘Help me, help me, sweet Jesus, help, I’m going to die, oh my God, I’m going to die,'” she said.



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