A hot air balloon pilot is believed to have sustained injuries to his head after his balloon crash-landed on a farm in Australia. According to press reports, as many as 16 passengers were lucky to escape injury after the balloon went down at around 8am local time in York, around 100km east of the city of Perth.
Local media is suggesting that the balloon clipped trees as its pilot apparently struggled with an emergency landing in poor weather. The pilot, a man in his 40s, was airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital in an air ambulance, but no one else on board was hurt. The extent of the pilot's injuries is not known.
Police have confirmed that they will be investigating the crash alongside aviation safety officers.
Hannah Sinclair, a reporter for the local Nine News station told Radio 6PR, that the crash happened due to "rough" conditions.
"The pilot had started to deflate the balloon as he started to make his way down," she said, "but he was flung out of the basket and it rolled on to him. His 16 passengers were crouching down at the time and escaped with minor injuries. Police will be investigating if he should have been flying in such conditions."
Until recently, Australia held the record for the deadliest hot air balloon crash in history. In 1989, two balloons collided in the central Australian town of Alice Springs, killing 13 people when one balloon's envelope tore, deflating it and sending it plunging 2,000ft to the ground.
This accident was surpassed for deadliness in 2013 at Luxor in Egypt, when 19 tourists were killed after their balloon caught fire and flew off after a mooring cable became wrapped around a gas cylinder. Its pilot and one passenger managed to leap clear, but the others were killed either by jumping to escape the fire and when it exploded in mid-air.