British tourist dies after North West hot air balloon crash

Johannesburg - A British tourist who was one of three people seriously injured when a hot air balloon crash-landed near Hartbeespoort on Tuesday, has died in hospital.

Bill Harrop, owner of Bill Harrop's Original Balloon Safaris, told News24 on Wednesday that he had been informed that the woman died overnight.

"It is devastating, everybody is absolutely distraught. We've never had anything like this happen in the 35 years we've been operating," he said.

Counselling had been arranged for the pilot and other people who were at the scene.

He could not release the victim's name yet.

At least 14 people and the pilot were in the balloon when it dragged along the ground and then hit rocks while trying to land near the Buffelspoort Dam early on Tuesday morning.

The tourist suffered internal injuries and was transported to Brits Mediclinic in a critical condition. A four-year-old girl was also critically injured and was airlifted to a Johannesburg hospital. Her mother was also hospitalised with suspected spinal and internal injuries, Loanne Louw, of Hartbeespoort EMS, said.

Harrop told News24 on Tuesday afternoon that he believed unexpectedly strong winds caused the crash. The conditions were good when they took off, but the wind suddenly picked up and was six times stronger than the forecast.

One of the passengers described to News24 how the "wind just swept us away" as they wanted to land in an open piece of land.

- Read more: Balloon crash an absolute nightmare - victim

Olivia Denny was on the balloon after getting the trip as a 70th birthday present from her son.

"I am just absolutely thankful that we are all alive. It was supposed to be one beautiful day out, but it turned into an absolute nightmare," Denny said.

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