British Space Scientist Killed as Hot-Air Balloons Collide in Turkey

A leading British space scientist was killed Friday, and nine other tourists injured, when two hot-air balloons collided over the mountains of eastern Turkey.

Kevin Beurle, a physicist and programmer at Queen Mary, University of London, died after the balloon in which he was traveling plummeted 160 feet to the ground shortly after take-off in the holiday region of Cappadocia.

The nine other tourists on board, eight of them British and one French, were injured, as was the balloon's British pilot.

Most of the passengers suffered broken bones, bruises and shock, but the tour operator, Explore!, said that one had been "critically injured."

Dr. Beurle, 53, specialized in imaging systems and space telescopes, developing software for the Cassini Orbiter, which is studying Saturn.

He lived in Streatham, South London, and was on vacation with a friend, Juliet Boas, whose name was on the list of passengers released by Turkish authorities.

Dr. Beurle had posted a message on his Facebook site the night before his death, saying: "Kevin Beurle is enjoying hiking in the tufa landscape of Cappadocia."

The region is famous for its "tufa" or volcanic rock formations known as "fairy chimneys," and the group was booked on an early morning flight over the area.

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