5 Peru balloon riders found, 2 missing at sea

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LIMA – Five women who were riding in a hot air balloon were found Sunday after being rescued from the Pacific Ocean, while workers searched for two male passengers who are still missing, officials said.

“Thank God, we have located five female occupants and we are continuing to search for the two missing men, whom we hope to find alive,” Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza told reporters on Canete beach south of Lima.

The women were spotted at sea and immediately rescued by two helicopters and a patrol, Pedraza said. They were being treated in hospital.

“There is joy, but also still tension because we need to find the other two young people,” the minister said.

The balloon’s basket held seven Peruvians – six tourists and the pilot.

At least one of the male passengers tried to swim to shore, so the search area has widened, according to Pedraza.

Globos Peru SAC manager Luis Miguel Fernandez earlier said the basket attached to the balloon can float on water.

The balloon was lost about 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Lima, and was probably swept by a strong wind into the Pacific Ocean, which was covered in dense fog.

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