LOCKHART, United States, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Sixteen people were killed on Saturday after a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed near Lockhart, Texas, authorities said.
The accident occurred shortly after 7:40 a.m. (1240 GMT) on Saturday near Lockhart, a city about 50 km south of the Lone Star State capital of Austin, when the hot air balloon with at least 16 people on board crashed into a pasture, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement.
Local police also confirmed the accident, saying that "the balloon was occupied and it does not appear at this time that there were any survivors of the crash."
The crash is the second most deadly in history. The deadliest hot air balloon crash happened in February 2013, when a hot air balloon flying over Luxor, an ancient city in Egypt, caught fire, crashed to the ground from about 300 meters and killed 19 tourists.
Two hot air balloons collided near Alice Springs, a city in the center of Australia, and one of them crashed, killing all 13 people on board.
In the wake of Saturday's crash in Texas, many people are questioning the safety of flying in a hot air balloon. According to USA Today, Dean Carlton, president of the Balloon Federation of America, hot air balloon is "a vehicle like cars and trucks," adding that Saturday's crash is "very rare."
While main causes of balloon accidents include equipment trouble, bad weather conditions and human errors, the cause of the Texas balloon crash is still not known. CNN said the balloon may have struck power lines.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are to investigate the accident. Local police said it will be difficult to identify the victims as tourists can buy balloon ride tickets without identity authentication.
There have been 69 severe hot air balloon accidents since 1964 in the United States, claiming 116 lives altogether.
Saturday's crash is among the worst tourism-related accidents in the United States.