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'Everyone was screaming' -- 11 die in New Zealand hot air balloon fire, crash

Marty Melville / Getty Images

Freinds and family of those killed lay flowers at the cordon near the accident site on Jan. 7, 2012 in Carterton, New Zealand.

Lynda Feringa / AP

This aerial photo shows the area where a hot air balloon crashed after it caught on fire in Carterton, New Zealand on Saturday.


msnbc.com staff and news services reports: "We saw two people jump out and everyone was screaming -- the screaming was just terrible -- and then when the canopy went up in flames it just dropped," Aurea Hickland was quoted by the New Zealand Herald as saying.

A family member who was waiting nearby for the balloon to land cried that the family had purchased the scenic ride for their parents as a Christmas gift, Hickland said.

Eyewitnesses told local media of flames shooting up to 30 feet from the balloon's basket before it plummeted to the ground.

Read the full story about the hot air balloon crash