Balloon crash investigation update

Saturday 7 January 2012, 6:24PM
By New Zealand Police


Police are conducting a thorough investigation with a number of agencies, following the fatal hot air balloon crash which occurred in Carterton around 7:25am this morning.

Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Brent Register says Police began receiving reports from eye witnesses about 7:25am, where they reported a hot air balloon in distress.

"It appears the hot air balloon operated by Early Morning Balloons left Kent Street, Carterton (behind The Paua Factory), between 6:40am and 6:45am."

He says after a 45-minute flight, the balloon was to land in a paddock in Somerset Road, Carterton. As the balloon was preparing to land, it hit wires on a power line, causing sparking in the basket.

"At this point, two of the 11 people onboard, believed to be a male and a female, appear to have jumped from the basket."

Inspector Register says the balloon then made a sharp ascent, a fire ignited on board and the balloon plummeted into a paddock approx 200 metres away on Somerset Road.
All 11 people on board, including the pilot and five couples from the wider Wellington region, were killed in the crash.

"We are continuing to work with our partner agencies, which include the Coroner's office, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Transport Accident and Investigation Commission, Dept of Labour, NZ Fire Service and Victim Support."

Inspector Register says a thorough investigation is being conducted to ascertain the cause of the tragedy.

"We are still in the process of identifying each of the 11 people and notifying their next of kin and this process will take some time, given it requires the skills of expert Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) staff."

Inspector Register says a Police family liaison team has spent today working with some of the families of the deceased and providing the support they need at this tragic time. "Our thoughts are with them all as they come to terms with what has occurred this morning."