Man dies from hot air balloon fall in Melbourne

SYDNEY, March 18: A man fell to his death from a hot air balloon as it was passing over Melbourne on Monday morning.

The accident occurred shortly after take-off.

The man’s body was discovered in a residential area in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. Police cordoned off the site and spoke to the other occupants of the balloon as well as eyewitnesses to clarify the circumstances of the incident.

The death was not being treated as suspicious, AAP cited police as saying.

The balloon later landed safely in a park. According to media reports, the pilot and the shocked passengers were offered psychological support. 

“Hot air balloon baskets are designed with safety in mind, specifically to prevent passengers from falling out accidentally or from any accidental exit,” local media cited a joint statement by the National Commercial Hot Air Ballooning Industry and the Australian Ballooning Federation as saying.

“Passengers and the pilot are understandably traumatised by the tragedy.”

AAP reported that WorkSafe, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority were investigating.