At least two tourists have been reported dead after two hot-air balloons collided at a beauty spot in central Turkey. The region's tourist ballooning sector has grown dramatically in recent years.
The accident on Monday, in Nevsehir province, was said to have occurred when one balloon's basket tore open the fabric of a balloon that was flying below it, officials and witnesses said.
"The lower balloon was torn and fell quickly," provincial governor Abdurrahman Savas told the Anatolia news agency. The balloon, which was travelling close to the town of Urgup, was said to have fallen some 300 meters (985 feet) to the ground.
Savas said two Brazilians, aged 71 and 65, had "lost their lives", while many more had been injured, mainly suffering from fractured bones. Anatolia put the number of injured at 23.
The balloon was said to have been carrying tourists mainly coming from Argentina, Brazil and Spain. Nevsehir province is in the region of Cappadocia, which is noted for its cone-shaped rock formations and underground cities carved out of rock. The tourist spot lies some 300 kilometers (190 miles) from the capital, Ankara.
Turkish aviation authorities were reported to have launched an investigation into the accident.
According to one Turkish tourism website, the ballooning sector has grown rapidly over the past decade, with 20 different companies operating some 140 balloons. About 1,400 people are employed in the region's ballooning industry.
In 2009, one British tourist was killed and nine other people injured when two balloons collided in the Cappadocia region. The latest accident comes almost three months after a balloon exploded over the Egyptian tourist destination of Luxor, killing 19 people.
rc/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)