HOUSTON: The hot air balloon that crashed in US' Texas state hit power lines before the accident, federal investigators announced.
There was evidence that part of the balloon hit the electrical lines before the deadly crash that killed all 16 people on board, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said on Sunday.
However, it was still unclear whether the fire broke out before or after the balloon struck the power lines, Xinhua news agency reported.
"There is evidence that some component of the balloon hit the wires -- not the tower," Robert Sumwalt from the NTSB said at a briefing.
He added that the massive red-white-and-blue balloon with a smiling-face image travelled nearly 13 km after taking off at around 7 a.m. on Saturday. A high-tension power line was hit at 7:42 a.m., followed by an emergency call minute later.
Sumwalt expressed the hope that investigators will be able to gather some information from the cell phones found among the wreckage. The response team said that the devices have been completely destroyed, but Sumwalt remained hopeful that the NTSB specialist team will be able to find some information.
The hot air balloon, a Kubicek-type manufactured in the Czech Republic, was operated by Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloons.
As of Sunday night, the investigators have not identified any victim, and dental records reportedly would have to be used to identify the victims.
The accident is the deadliest of its kind in the US history.