French mission in Turkey mourns colleague killed in balloon accident in Cappadocia
DHA photoThe French diplomatic mission in Turkey is mourning the death of Deputy Consul Vincent Fabien Christophe Caumontat Touja, who was killed in a hot air balloon accident in the touristic area of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia on April 9.
“This tragic loss has shaken us,” said Bertrand Buchwalter, the French consul general to Istanbul, after a ceremony at the consulate building on April 10.
“He served here for three years. He was a colleague who was loved by everyone. We performed a closed ceremony with all our employees. We are in deep sorrow. We are very grateful for the support we received from the Turkish authorities during this difficult period,” he said.
Caumontat’s body was brought to the French Embassy in Ankara after being taken from a state hospital in Nevşehir’s Ürgüp district, which was near the scene of the incident.
Bekir G., the balloon’s pilot, was released after being interrogated by the gendarmerie following the incident.
The Turkish Transportation Ministry said the balloon was carrying 20 passengers, including six foreigners, when it hit an electric line during its descent in the Ortahisar neighborhood due to adverse wind conditions.
Fatih Yakut, the head doctor of the Kapadokya Private Hospital, said the 12 Turkish, two Colombian and one Iranian citizens who were injured in the accident were in fair condition, but one Colombian citizen required surgery for broken bones in the face. Turkish basketball team Tofaş’s Colombian player Juan Palacios and his fiancée were among those injured, officials said.
Cappadocia is visited by around 2.5 million domestic and foreign tourists every year, with around a fifth of the visitors taking balloon flights over the stunning landscape during their trip. However, bad weather conditions have led to a number of accidents in the region.
In February, Danish tourist Benny Jensen was killed as the hot air balloon in which he had gone sightseeing made a heavy landing amid strong winds.
One month later, 49 tourists were injured when three balloons made hard landings amid strong winds in the region.