A hot air balloon crash in the USA has left five people dead.
The balloon hit power lines in Albuquerque before the gondola crashed to the ground, police said on Saturday.
Officials did not reveal the identities of the three men and two women who died following the incident at around 7am on the west side of New Mexico’s largest city, which also knocked out power for thousands of households.
Four of them were pronounced dead at the scene, and the fifth person died after being taken to the hospital in critical condition, police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos explained.
The multi-colored balloon skirted the top of the power lines, sending at least one dangling and knocking out power to more than 13,000 homes, Mr Gallegos added.
The gondola fell about 100 feet (30 meters) before crashing in a busy street and catching fire, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.
Videos shared online showed locals praying out loud and desperately calling for a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.
The envelope of the balloon floated away, eventually landing on a residential rooftop, Mr Gallegos said.
Albuquerque is known for its hot air ballooning and hosts one of the world’s most photographed events for nine days in October, which draws hundreds of thousands of spectators from around the world.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, as the National Transportation Safety Board sent two investigators to the scene. Preliminary reports are typically available in a couple of weeks.
It will look into the pilot, the balloon itself and the operating environment spokesman Peter Knudson said.
Mr Gallegos said hot air balloons can be difficult to manage, particularly when the wind kicks up.
He said: ‘Our balloonists tend to be very much experts at navigating, but sometimes we have these types of tragic accidents.’
Albuquerque-area residents are treated to colorful displays of balloons floating over homes and along the Rio Grande throughout the year but accidents are rare.
Since 2008, there have been 12 fatal hot air ballooning accidents in the United States, according to an NTSB database.
Two of those happed in Rio Rancho just outside Albuquerque in 2008 and in January of this year.
In the January one, a passenger was injured when he was ejected from the gondola after a hard landing and later died.
In 2016, in neighbouring Texas, a hot air balloon hit high-tension power lines before crashing to the ground, killing all 16 people on board died.
Federal authorities said at the time it was the worst disaster of its kind in US history.
The FAA did not immediately have registration details for the balloon but it was identified as a Cameron 0-120.
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