5 dead after hot air balloon crash in New Mexico

Five people have died after a hot air balloon crashed into power lines in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday morning, police said.

Witnesses told police the balloon crashed into the lines, and authorities said the gondola caught fire and fell about 100 feet. The balloon detached from the basket and was found separately in a backyard, police said.

Four people — two men and two women — were pronounced dead on the scene, and one man was transported to a hospital but later succumbed to his wounds, police said. 

The balloon’s pilot was among the dead, and all five victims were believed to have been riding in the hot air balloon, with ages ranging from 40 to 60 years old, according to police. Police said they would release the victims’ names once they could notify their next of kin.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue said the cause of the crash was unknown.

More than 13,000 people were temporarily left without power due to the balloon crash, according to officials at New Mexico energy provider PNM electric, but power was later restored once emergency officials approved the utility company to re-energize the line.

“Power has been fully restored to all customers that were affected from the power outage following the tragedy of this morning’s hot hair balloon incident. Our hearts are deeply saddened about the loss of lives today,” PNM tweeted. “Any time there are fatalities involved, it is incredibly hard for those involved, family and friends, for first responders, PNM crews & for so many others. This was a terrible incident. We would like to thank first responders & PNM crews for their work on this very sad day.”

Michelle Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico, tweeted Saturday that her prayers were with the loved ones of those affected. She wrote, “I’m incredibly saddened to hear of this terrible tragedy in Albuquerque.”

New Mexico State Police assisted at the scene of the incident, and the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.