Fatal balloon crash victims named

Belinda Harter and Stephen Hopkirk died in the crash.
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Belinda Harter and Stephen Hopkirk died in the crash.
Chrisjan Jordaan, 21, and girlfriend Alexis Still, 19, pose before leaving on the tragic hot air balloon flight that ended their lives.
2 of 8Geoff Walker Photography
Chrisjan Jordaan, 21, and girlfriend Alexis Still, 19, pose before leaving on the tragic hot air balloon flight that ended their lives.
Denise Dellabarca, 58, of Paraparaumu.
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Denise Dellabarca, 58, of Paraparaumu.
Valerie Bennett, 70, of Masterton.
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Valerie Bennett, 70, of Masterton.
Des Dean, 70, and Ann Dean, 65, of Masterton.
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Des Dean, 70, and Ann Dean, 65, of Masterton.
Diana Cox.
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Diana Cox.
Howard Cox.
7 of 8REBECCA THOMPSON/The Wellingtonian
Howard Cox.
Lance Robert Hopping, 50, was to marry long-time partner Nina Jane Kelynack at Easter weekend.
8 of 8Supplied
Lance Robert Hopping, 50, was to marry long-time partner Nina Jane Kelynack at Easter weekend.

Police have released the names of the 11 people killed in a balloon crash near Carterton.

The 11 died when their Early Morning Balloons flight hit powerlines and burst into flames yesterday.

They were this afternoon named as balloon pilot Lance Hopping, 53 of Masterton, Howard and Diana Cox, aged 71 and 63, of Wellington, Desmond and Ann Dean, 65 and 70, of Masterton, cousins Valerie Bennett, 70, of Masterton, and Denise Dellabarca, 58, of Paraparaumu, Stephen Hopkirk, 50, and Belinda Harter, 49, of Lower Hutt, and Johannes (Chrisjan) Jordaan, 21, and Alexis Still, 19, of Wellington.

Wairarapa Area Commander Brent Register extended his heartfelt sympathies to the families of those who died in the crash.

Police would remain in contact with the victims' families as they came to terms with their loss, he said.

Photos of the victims would be released in the coming days.

"These families are extremely shocked," Register said.

A further two bodies were removed from the scene this afternoon, while another two were bought out by two hearses this evening, under police escort, and in torrential rain.

A TAIC picture points to where the fuel supply later burst.
1 of 28TAIC
A TAIC picture points to where the fuel supply later burst.
Parents of crash vitim Alexis Still, Allan and Vivienne Still with her two older siblings Ben, 22, and Emma-Jane, 24.
2 of 28MAARTEN HOLL
Parents of crash vitim Alexis Still, Allan and Vivienne Still with her two older siblings Ben, 22, and Emma-Jane, 24.
Wairarapa Area Commander Brent Register talks to media during a briefing on investigations into the fatal balloon crash.
3 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN
Wairarapa Area Commander Brent Register talks to media during a briefing on investigations into the fatal balloon crash.
TAIC communications manager Peter Northcote.
4 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN
TAIC communications manager Peter Northcote.
Police at the scene of the balloon crash which killed 11 people.
5 of 28PHIL REID/The Dominion Post
Police at the scene of the balloon crash which killed 11 people.
Alexis Still.
6 of 28Twitter
Alexis Still.
Lance Robert Hopping, 50, was to marry long-time partner Nina Jane Kelynack at Easter weekend.
7 of 28Supplied
Lance Robert Hopping, 50, was to marry long-time partner Nina Jane Kelynack at Easter weekend.
Friends and family at the scene of Saturday's hot air balloon tragedy at Carterton.
8 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Friends and family at the scene of Saturday's hot air balloon tragedy at Carterton.
An onlooker took this photo only moments before the fatal crash near Carterton.
9 of 28RYAN BECKETT
An onlooker took this photo only moments before the fatal crash near Carterton.
Two of the three tents covering the area where the balloon crashed.
10 of 28PHIL REID/The Dominion Post
Two of the three tents covering the area where the balloon crashed.
Flowers being placed on Somerset Road near the site of the fatal hot air balloon crash.
11 of 28PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
Flowers being placed on Somerset Road near the site of the fatal hot air balloon crash.
A man talks to police officers at the scene of the fatal balloon crash in Carterton.
12 of 28PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
A man talks to police officers at the scene of the fatal balloon crash in Carterton.
Deputy chief investigator for TAIC (Transport Accident Investigation Commission) Peter Williams, left, Police Area commander Inspector Brent Register, and Nathan Guy at Saturday's press conference regarding the fatal balloon accident near Carterton.
13 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Deputy chief investigator for TAIC (Transport Accident Investigation Commission) Peter Williams, left, Police Area commander Inspector Brent Register, and Nathan Guy at Saturday's press conference regarding the fatal balloon accident near Carterton.
Carterton mayor Ron Mark at Saturday's press conference.
14 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Carterton mayor Ron Mark at Saturday's press conference.
People leave the scene of the hot air balloon crash, near Carterton.
15 of 28PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
People leave the scene of the hot air balloon crash, near Carterton.
Relatives at the scene of the fatal Carterton air balloon crash.
16 of 28Phil Reid
Relatives at the scene of the fatal Carterton air balloon crash.
Nurses Jacqui O'Connor and Annette Tempest were among the first on the scene of the fatal hot air balloon disaster on Somerset Rd in Carterton, Wairarapa.
17 of 28Phil Reid
Nurses Jacqui O'Connor and Annette Tempest were among the first on the scene of the fatal hot air balloon disaster on Somerset Rd in Carterton, Wairarapa.
A woman places flowers at the scene of the fatal Carterton air balloon crash.
18 of 28Phil Reid
A woman places flowers at the scene of the fatal Carterton air balloon crash.
The scene of the fatal balloon accident in Somerset Rd, Carterton.
19 of 28Phil Reid
The scene of the fatal balloon accident in Somerset Rd, Carterton.
The site of the crash being photographed from a fire.
20 of 28Phil Reid
The site of the crash being photographed from a fire.
Police talk to media at the scene of a horrific balloon crash near Carterton. From left to right: Wellington District commander Superintendent Mike Rusbatch and Wairarapa area commander Inspector Brent  Register.
21 of 28Phil Reid
Police talk to media at the scene of a horrific balloon crash near Carterton. From left to right: Wellington District commander Superintendent Mike Rusbatch and Wairarapa area commander Inspector Brent Register.
The scene of the crash from the air.
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The scene of the crash from the air.
Bevan Lambess, witness to the horror crash.
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Bevan Lambess, witness to the horror crash.
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
24 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Emergency services at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
25 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Emergency services at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
26 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Emergency services at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
27 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Emergency services at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
28 of 28ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.

The others would remain at the scene overnight, police said.

INVESTIGATORS' PROMISE

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has vowed to "leave no stone unturned" as they work to establish what caused a fatal balloon accident near Carterton.

PETER NORTHCOTE: The TAIC communications manager told media that the investigation was in its "very early stages".
ROBERT KITCHIN
PETER NORTHCOTE: The TAIC communications manager told media that the investigation was in its "very early stages".

TAIC communications manager Peter Northcote told media this afternoon that the investigation was in its "very early stages".

"This investigation, this inquiry will take some time. Six months to a year would be typical for an inquiry of this nature," Northcote said.

A team of four investigators from the commission arrived at the scene late yesterday morning.

"The role of the investigation team on site is to gather evidence and to put that in front of the commission. They are being briefed as the investigation unfolds."

The investigators had reviewed photography of the flight and interviewed some of the key witnesses to the crash, he said.

They returned to the crash site this morning to further examine the scene. The remaining bodies would be removed when they were finished.

There would be a further detailed examination of the wreckage once the bodies had been removed, Northcote said.

The balloon wreckage would likely be removed in the next few days.

Investigators would look also at the life of the balloon, which would include talks with Cameron, the company in the United Kingdom that manufactured it, he said.

They would also investigate Saturday's flight from the "conceptual stages" until it crashed, Northcote said.

"…As we leave no stone unturned as we look at all the possibilities that may have contributed to this event so hopefully we can make some findings and the commission can make some recommendations which might prevent a recurrence of a similar type of event."

THREE POLICE INVESTIGATIONS

The police investigation into the ballooning accident had now split into three phases, said Register.

The first phase had been the process to identify the victims.

"[Staff] are working at the moment to remove the last nine bodies from the scene," Register said.

He said bodies would be taken to Wellington to complete the identification process.

The second phase was working with the victims' families.

The third phase was the accident investigation, Register said. "This again will not be a quick process - it will take some time for us to complete this."

He said the weather was causing some issues, with a heavy rain warning issued for Wairarapa in place until 9pm tonight.

"We're expecting about 70mm of rain."

Police had erected more marquees to help with the weather conditions.

They had several photos of the incident they were using. "Some of those photos are quite graphic in nature," Register said.

The two people who jumped from the basket were the two bodies that had been taken to Wellington mortuary.

There was debris spread over a diameter of around 50 metres.

This included the balloon, four LPG containers, and then "what can only be described as the wreckage."

Register said identifying the bodies was a very difficult process.

"It's very hard to talk about - when the balloon has caught fire it's burned rapidly. Coupled with that, it's fallen from a height. So the injuries are very bad."

"This is just a horrific accident," Register said. He said the families were holding up but it was difficult.

"Everybody who goes ballooning normally expects to have the time of their life. But this is just a horrible tragedy and they're dealing with it as best they can."

Yellow flags mark where debris from the crash landed. In an adjacent paddock, the power line where the balloon hit could be seen.

It was on the same field where the two bodies of the passengers who jumped from the basket were found.

Media were allowed brief access to the site this morning, with one photographer and one television cameraman escorted through to take photos and video.

The police cordon at both ends of Somerset Rd remained in place.

- Reporting by Tony Wall, Nicola Russell, Kirsty Johnston, Greer McDonald, Clio Francis, Blair Ensor, Walt Dickson and Lesley Longstaff.

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