The Electronic Telegraph

Book ID 398

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The Electronic Telegraph,
Extract Author: Paul Harris
Extract Date: 2000 July 13

British pilot killed as Kenyan safari balloon catches fire

Paul Harris in Nairobi

A BRITISH pilot was killed yesterday and three American tourists were injured after their hot-air balloon caught fire in the Masai Mara game park in Kenya.

There were conflicting accounts of what occurred. One report said the balloon was about to land when it burst into flames; but Transworld Safaris, the balloon tour operator, said that it was on the verge of taking off at just after 6am when disaster struck.

The pilot had lived in East Africa for several years flying Balloons in Kenya and northern Tanzania before joining Transworld a few months ago. No details will be released about him until his family has been informed. His body has been taken to a mortuary in the town of Narok, the main tourist base for the Masai Mara.

Rufus Drabble, a spokesman for the British High Commission in Nairobi, said the Briton had just taken up permanent residency in Kenya and efforts were being made to trace relatives in Britain. The accident happened when an explosion was triggered in the balloon's burners.

The basket and balloon fabric quickly became engulfed in flame. Nancy Maksud, of the African Medical Research Foundation which flew the seven injured to hospital in Nairobi, said: 'It was about to take off when it exploded and caught fire.'

A group of Kenyan workers tried to rescue the occupants, helping to haul the three tourists from the fire, but they were too late to save the pilot. Two of the workers were injured as well as two Kenyan balloon crew members.

The balloon was based at the Sarova camp in the south-east of the vast reserve, home to lions, giraffe and elephants that attract tens of thousands of visitors each year. The causes of the explosion are not yet known. Officials from the company flew to the site yesterday morning to sift the smouldering wreckage for clues to the source of the disaster.

Balloon trips to view game over the plains of the Masai Mara are a popular diversion for many tourists. Often visitors will spend several hours drifting silently through the air, watching the sun rise and spotting wildlife below them, before having a champagne breakfast in the bush.

A Transworld spokesman said the accident was the first of its kind to affect the company. He said: 'Sometimes you can get high winds at altitude and have to come down quickly and land with a jolt. But we have never had anything like this before.'

Extract ID: 1513

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The Electronic Telegraph,
Extract Date: 26/08/2004

Paul Ngei tries acting

Telegraph Obituary

Having studied drama at Makere , he tried his hand at acting, gaining a small part in the feature film, Where No Vultures Fly (1951), which starred Anthony Steel and Dinah Sheridan.

Extract ID: 5432