Six injured in hot air balloon crash in New South Wales

Sixpeople have been injuredin a hot air balloon crash in the Hunter region on Saturday morning.

Up to 15 people were on board the hot air balloon when it struck a bush while attempting to land in Cessnock.

The balloon made a hardlanding near Camp Road outsideGreta, 21 kilometres north of Cessnock.

A 24-year-old woman is being treated for suspected spinal injuries and is in a stable condition. An80-year-old woman sustained multiple fractures and is in a serious but stable condition. Both are being treated at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.

Four other people have minor injuries. Two were taken to Maitland Hospital but have been discharged.

Twenty-six year-old Michael witnessed thecrash from oneof four other hot air balloons that were trying to land in the strong winds.

Emergency services at the scene of the hot air balloon crash in the Hunter region. Photo: The Singleton Argus

“You could see them hit the bush and we heard the pilot screaming ‘hold on, hold on’,” said Michael, who requested thathis surname not be published.

“There was nothing the blue-and-white balloon could have done to avoid the bush. We were worried they would hit the barbed-wire fence running parallel to where they were flying,” he said.

Once the balloon’s basket hit the ground, no one got out, Michael said.

“They didn’t seem to want to get out … we asked ourpilot if anyone was injured and he said he didn’t know,” Michael said.

Michael said he was in the hot air balloonto see his friend propose to his girlfriend, “and she said yes”.

He said hot air balloon staff were talking about the strength of the winds “the whole morning”.

“When we were in the air the pilot told us we were flying90 kilometres an hour,” Michael said.

Their own balloon landed roughly just before the balloon carrying the severely injured passengers, he said.

“The pilot said our landing was about a seven-and-a-half to eight in terms of hard landings … afew of us were complaining of whiplash.”

A sudden wind change is believed to be the cause of the incident – and other hot air balloons, which took off from Cessnock, were involved.

Hot air balloon accident at GretaPost by Hot air balloon accident at Greta.

Hot air balloon accident at GretaPost by Hot air balloon accident at Greta.

A spokeswoman for Beyond Ballooning -ahot air balloon company that operates in the area – saidtheir pilots made the decision to cancel their flights on Saturday morning.

The company would not disclose the reasons for its cancellation.