Hot air balloon crash injures 9 after lifting into sky without pilot in Austrian Alps

Hot air balloon crash injures 9 after lifting into sky without pilot in Austrian Alps

A hot air balloon crashed in the Austrian Alps on Saturday, injuring nine people.

The balloon hit the ground on the mountain range's eastern edge, throwing out the pilot and co-pilot, and then bounced back into the sky with the passengers still on board, authorities said.

Two of the occupants were seriously injured in the crash in the Bucklige Welt region, an area named for its hilly landscape, according to Sonja Kellner of the Austrian Red Cross.

They were found with two other slightly injured passengers at Untereck. Another five passengers were found with minor injuries near Stang, about 5 kilometres away.

The Kurier daily newspaper reported that the accident occurred as the balloon was about to land on a meadow.

It said the balloon descended too quickly and bounced off the ground, knocking four people out of the basket, including the pilot and co-pilot.

They were dragged along the ground for a few metres before the balloon took off again with its five remaining passengers.

The pilot told the passengers over the phone how to make an emergency landing, which eventually came to a halt in a forest, Kurier reported.

The two seriously injured passengers were taken by helicopter to local hospitals.