A hot-air balloon caught fire and crashed into farmland, killing all 11 people on board in New Zealand on Saturday.

The accident occurred at Carterton, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Wellington at about 7:30 a.m. local time (1830 GMT). It is believed that the balloon burst into flames after it hit power lines.

"Sadly the pilot and 10 passengers on board have not survived," Reuters quoted Wellington Police District Commander Superintendent Mike Rusbatch as saying.

According to Reuters, the 11 people on the hot-air balloon included five couples and the pilot. The area is well-known for hot-air ballooning, and the weather was said to be pleasant.

"It's a very sad time for all balloonists," Martyn Stacey, president of the Balloon Aviation Association of New Zealand, was quoted as saying. Aviation-wise, ballooning is one of the safest forms of flying," he said.

It is New Zealand's worst air tragedy in 33 years. In 1979, an Antarctic tourist flight crashed into Mt Erebus killing all 257 people on board.