Peru balloon falls in sea; two missing

AFP-JIJI

Five women who were riding in a hot air balloon were found Sunday after being rescued from the Pacific Ocean, while workers searched for two male passengers who were still missing, officials said.

Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza sharply criticized balloon owner Globos Peru SAC, accusing it of “grave negligence” for not requiring the passengers to wear life vests on the flight over the Pacific. He also lashed out at Globos for failing to outfit the balloon with a GPS system so that it could be tracked.

The balloon’s basket originally held seven Peruvians — six tourists and the pilot. Globos manager Luis Miguel Fernandez earlier said the basket can float on water.

At least one of the male passengers tried to swim to shore, so the search area has widened, according to Pedraza.

The balloon was lost about 200 km south of Lima, and was probably swept by a strong wind into the Pacific Ocean, which was covered in dense fog.