Virginia: Third body found in US hot air balloon horror

Written by Reuters | Washington | Updated: May 12 2014, 09:32am hrs
Rescue personnel located the body of the third and final victim from a hot-air balloon that burst into flames upon its descent in the US state of Virginia.

Witnesses watched in horror Friday as the balloon caught fire in the evening sky after hitting a power line as it was coming down into a pre-designated field near the state capital Richmond.

The burning balloon then surged back up, before plummeting down again and smashing into the ground.

The balloon and gondola separated at some point, witnesses said, and the pilot had attempted to fight the fire while flying the balloon.

Two of the three people aboard were already confirmed dead and their bodies found.

"At about 11:00 yesterday, the remains of the third occupant were discovered. This discovery was approximately 100 yards (meters) north of where the second occupant was found Saturday," Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said in a statement yesterday.

"Now that the male pilot and two female passengers have all been located, this concludes the large-scale search efforts of the operation."

More than 100 personnel were involved in Sunday's search of a large swath of land that included a heavily wooded area.

The rest of the two-day Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival was canceled after the crash.