Three Britons killed in Luxor Egypt balloon crash
Three Britons have died and another is in hospital after a hot air balloon crashed in Egypt, tour operator Thomas Cook has confirmed.
The victims are among at least 18 tourists killed this morning in the crash near Luxor.
The balloon was 1,000 ft (300m) up when it exploded, caught fire and plunged on to agricultural fields.
More than 20 people are understood to have been in the balloon.
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French, Hong Kong and Japanese citizens are among the victims.
The UK Foreign Office has confirmed the deaths of two British nationals and one British resident in the crash.
In a statement it said: “We can confirm the tragic deaths of 2 British Nationals and 1 British resident following a hot air balloon crash in Luxor, Egypt earlier today.
"The next of kin have been informed and our thoughts are with them and their families at this difficult time.
"We are providing them with consular assistance. We can also confirm that one other British National was involved and is in a stable condition.
“We have had consular officials in Luxor since early this morning who have been focussed on providing consular assistance and supporting the Egyptian authorities.
"Our Ambassador to Egypt has met the injured British National and has offered our assistance”.
The balloon's operating company confirmed a gas cylinder exploded on board the balloon, bringing it down.
Thomas Cook is sending counselling and support teams to Luxor, and has opened a hot line for concerned relatives of those in the area - 0800 107 5638.
The operator has temporarily suspended sales of hot air balloon rides in Egypt while an investigation is carried out.
Peter Fankhauser, CEO of Thomas Cook UK & Continental Europe, said: “What happened in Luxor this morning is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of everyone in Thomas Cook are with our guests, their family and friends."
Luxor, which is 320 miles (510km) south of the capital Cairo, is a popular tourist spot. Lying on the banks of the River Nile, it boasts pharaonic-era ruins and royal tombs.
Hot air balloon rides at sunrise are a popular way to see the sites.
The Luxor crash is reported to have been one of the worst involving tourists in the country. In 2009, 16 tourists were injured when their balloon stuck a mobile phone transmission.
A year earlier, seven tourists were injured in a similar crash.