5 killed in New Mexico hot-air balloon crash

©New York Daily News

A hot-air balloon crashed in New Mexico Saturday, killing at least four people. - MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE/Times/Tampa Bay Times/TNS

All five people aboard a hot-air balloon that crashed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday morning are confirmed to have been killed.

The fifth person, a man who had earlier been transported to the hospital in critical and unstable condition, “succumbed to his wounds,” Albuquerque police confirmed via Twitter shortly after 1 p.m. local time.

“Our prayers go out to the friends and family of all five people who tragically lost their lives.”

The pilot was earlier confirmed to be among the other four deceased, which included two adult males and two adult females ranging in age from 40 to 60 years old, tweeted KOB reporter Joy Wang.

Authorities responded to the scene shortly after 7 a.m. local time after reports of a balloon hitting a power line, KOB reports.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue said the cause of the crash is currently unknown, tweeted Wang.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will handle the investigation into the cause of the incident, according to police.

Preliminary reports suggest five were aboard when the Cameron 0-120 hot-air balloon hit power lines roughly 6 miles from the Albuquerque International Sunport Airport at about 7 a.m. local time and subsequently caught fire, according to an FAA statement tweeted by Wang.

“I noticed a loud bang. My girlfriend heard it. ... It sounded like gunshots and it was like a loud boom, boom,” Joshua Perez, who was at the gym at the time of the crash, told Wang, noting that the pair saw the balloon and basket going in opposite directions.

“You just react fast and I was thinking, ‘Save these people. Save these people,’” said Perez, who noted that, after seeing “a big fire,” he was among people who turned off the propane but “it was just already too late.”

“No one was moving. I think they already had got shocked. So it is a sad day in New Mexico. You know, (hot-air ballooning) is our tradition,” Perez told Wang.

More than a dozen outages affecting close to 14,000 in the city’s southwest area were acknowledged by Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM).

“Everyone at PNM is deeply saddened by this tragic loss. 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,” said the electric company, according to Wang.

The company tweeted around 11 a.m. local time that power had been restored and noted: “Our hearts are deeply saddened about the loss of lives today.

“This was a terrible incident,” the company continued in a subsequent tweet. “We would like to thank first responders & PNM crews for their work on this very sad day.”

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