Peru finds body of hot air balloon crash pilot

Image source, AP
Image caption,
The five women in the balloon were rescued after nearly nine hours in the water

Peruvian officials say a body found in the ocean is that of the pilot of a hot air balloon that crashed on Sunday.

The body of Juan Carlos Fernandez was found near Cerro Azul beach.

Five passengers are recovering in hospital after clinging to debris in the Pacific for more than eight hours, but one other is still missing.

Officials said they will press charges against the balloon's operator, Globos Peru SAC, as it was unregistered and not licensed for commercial flights.

One of the survivors, Melisa Contreras, told Peruvian media the balloon ran out of gas before it came down.

"[The pilot] said: 'We're out of gas, we're out of gas.' The married lady asked him: 'Is this a joke?' And he said: 'No, we're going down, we're out of gas'," she told Canal N television.

She also told local media that the missing passenger, Aldo Torres del Pino, suffered a nervous breakdown after the crash, and panicked despite their attempts to calm him down.

Globos Peru's licence covered only sporting or recreational flights with a maximum of two passengers, officials say.

Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said on Sunday that none of the people on board the balloon flight had been wearing life jackets.


The survivors are said to be recovering from hypothermia, sun-stroke and exhaustion, after spending more than eight hours keeping afloat after the crash.

They were reportedly found 6km (3.7 miles) from the Peruvian coast, holding on to the debris of the balloon and its basket.

On Monday, rescue operations were extended further south of the capital, Lima.

Relatives of the missing tourist told Andina news agency that they still hoped he would be found alive.

Members of the Peruvian navy, air force, police and volunteers are searching by sea and air for the missing man.

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