Peru to prosecute owners of 'illegal' hot air balloon

Rescued balloon crash survivor The five women in the balloon were rescued after nearly nine hours in the sea

The Peruvian authorities say they will press charges against the owners of the hot air balloon that crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Sunday.

Five women are recovering in hospital after spending nearly nine hours clinging to the wreckage.

But the pilot and the only male tourist on board are still missing.

The Transport Ministry said Globos Peru SAC was not licensed to operate commercial balloon flights and its balloon was not officially registered.

The company's licence covered only sporting or recreational flights with a maximum of two passengers, authorities say.

Hypothermia

Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said on Sunday none of the people on the flight were wearing life jackets.

The survivors are said to be recovering after suffering from hypothermia, sunstroke and exhaustion, after spending more than eight hours keeping afloat after the crash.

Map

They were reportedly found six kilometres from the Peruvian coast, holding on to the debris of the balloon.

On Monday, the rescue operations were extended further south of the capital Lima.

Relatives of the missing tourist, Aldo Torres del Pino, told Andina news agency they still hoped to find him alive.

"We have confidence and faith that Aldo will be found alive, as well as the balloon crew member," they said.

The flight patrols, which were scanning up to 8km from the coast, also reportedly went 4km further.

Members of the Peruvian navy, air force, police and volunteers are searching by sea and by air for the missing men.

Reports suggest one or both of the men attempted to swim ashore.

Bad weather conditions are said to be making the search operations more difficult.

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