Mother and toddler killed in balloon crash at scenic spot in China

Laurie Chen

A mother and her young son were killed on a National Day ballooning trip over eastern China, The Beijing News reported on Thursday.

The incident took place in the Majiagou eco-tourism village near the city of Yantai in Shandong province on Tuesday. The report said a tether holding the balloon to the ground broke, and as the balloon rose it ruptured, sending the unnamed 31-year-old woman and the three-year-old boy – who were harnessed side-by-side – to their deaths.

They were the only passengers. Police said five people had been held in connection with the incident.

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It is unclear from mobile phone footage published by newspaper how far the balloon and its passengers fell.

The report quoted emergency response authorities as saying the ride was illegal, and that they were investigating. All tourist activities in the Majiagou scenic area were temporarily suspended.

Tickets for the site over the week-long holiday cost 70 yuan (US$10) each and included a balloon ride, the attraction’s website said. The report said park staff promised refunds on all tickets.

“That balloon was not ours, but it happened on our land,” a member of Majiagou scenic area staff told The Beijing News.

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“Police have determined that this is a criminal case. This is illegal, this balloon activity is unauthorised,” a member of the area’s management team was quoted as saying.

The Chinese government was urged to tighten restrictions on balloons after a crash in southern Guangxi autonomous region in 2009 claimed the lives of four Dutch tourists.

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