Written by Staff Writer by Barbara Starr, CNN
A 59-year-old man died after falling from a hot air balloon in Israel on Sunday, police said.
The incident took place in the central city of Ariel. The man was found not breathing and inside the basket with a broken back, said Tzahi Hanegbi, who heads the regional council in the region.
“It’s a tragic day for our community, a tragic day for the family, and a tragic day for us as a community,” he said.
Hanegbi called the incident “a great terror for our community and for all the communities in the state of Israel.”
There was a call for a distress alarm, police said.
Israeli Knesset lawmaker Miri Regev tweeted that the incident was the “biggest human tragedy of the year.”
Hanegbi said the balloon was owned by a group called Arava Air Enterprises, which was operating its first balloon tour in Israel, in Ariel.
The company said in a statement that it was “saddened” by the tragedy.
It expressed its condolences to the victim’s family and said it was cooperating with police, and was offering every assistance, not only to the family but also “to the balloon crew and to the balloon that was under its control when the incident occurred.”
A police statement said the investigation was continuing and the suspect was being questioned.
The Israel Occupation Police released a statement saying the balloon, which was flying above the Dead Sea, came down about 11,000 feet in the air in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.
The cause of the accident is being investigated.