A married couple died and their daughter was injured after a hot air balloon they were riding in caught fire – moments after they posed for a final family photo in front of the then-downed aircraft.
The accident took place in Mexico City Saturday, and claimed the lives of two victims, Jose Nolasco, 50, and his wife Viridiana Becerril, 39, Mexican authorities have since confirmed.
Video posted to social media by horrified onlookers shows the incident – with the balloon seen descending rapidly as it burst into flames. The chilling footage also show occupants appearing to either fall or jump from the craft, to onlookers’ dismay.
The pair’s daughter, identified as Regina Itzani, was also on the balloon, cops said, but is expected to survive. She is thought to have jumped from the craft, sustaining a broken arm and second-degree burns.
Her age was not immediately clear. Some surfacing reports suggest she was 13, while some posts on social media indicate she was 23.
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The accident took place in Mexico City Saturday, and claimed the lives of two victims, Jose Nolasco, 50, and his wife Viridiana Becerril, 39. The pair’s daughter, Regina Itzani (seen ehre), was also on the balloon, but is expected to survive
Video posted to social media by horrified onlookers shows the balloon descending rapidly as it burst into flames. It shows occupants appearing to either fall or jump from the craft
Her age was not listed by local police. The incident took place over the pre-Hispanic ruin site of Teotihuacan, just north of the city – a popular site for both local and tourists to engage in balloon rides.
Best known for its twin Temples of the Sun and Moon, was once a large city that housed over 100,000 pre-Aztec peoples and encompassed roughly 8 square miles.
The ancient city was one of the largest in the world at its height between 100 B.C. and 750 AD, before it was abandoned before the rise of the Aztecs in the 1300s.
Footage of taken at the historic site shows the hot air balloon deflating as flames quickly engulf the basket below, where the Mexican family had been enjoying their ride.
An onlooker can be overheard saying, in Spanish: ‘My God, people are falling’ as a person plummets to the ground – with another seen jumping soon after.
It was not immediately clear if that person was Regina, or the pilot of the hot air balloon who is said to have also been on the aircraft.
He is thought to be the second person seen jumping out of the basket in the footage, during which the balloon is quickly engulfed by flames. The pilots’ whereabouts, as of Sunday, are believed to be unknown.
Footage shows the hot air balloon deflating as flames quickly engulf the basket below, where the Mexican family had been enjoying their ride
An onlooker can be overheard saying, in Spanish: ‘My God, people are falling’ as a person plummets to the ground – with another seen jumping soon after
Yesterday, a selfie photo of the family taken moments before the hot air balloon burst into flames was circulating on social media as it emerged the ride was a surprise birthday present Regina and her dad had organized for Viridiana.
Reyna Gloria Sarmiento, Regina’s grandmother, told local press the teenager had yet to be told her parents had died.
She added: ‘It was the birthday of my daughter Viridiana, Regina’s mom, and they had prepared this ride as as a surprise for her.’
Saying her granddaughter was ‘conscious’ and stable in hospital, Gloria also revealed she had hugged her parents before jumping out of the hot air balloon.
An investigation into the tragedy is ongoing. Initial local reports said it could be linked to a fault in the fuel storage system.
Town hall officials in Caujimalpa de Morelos west of Mexico City where the family came from, said in a statement: ‘We send our condolences to the family, friends and acquaintances of Jose Nolasco and Viridiana Becerril who died in the hot air balloon tragedy in Teotihuacan.
‘Our solidarity and prayers are with Regina and we wish her a speedy recovery.’