NIBONG TEBAL (Bernama) – Malaysian reporters were caught in a suspens when the hot air balloon they were in blew off-course, landing in the middle of a road yesterday.
Relieved, the seven media men, including two Bernama representatives can chalk down the incidence as part of their experience during the prelude to the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta to be held from February 9-10.
Chairman of the state Tourism, Heritage, Culture and Arts Committee Yeoh Soon Hin was together with the media personnel on their hot air balloon ride which was handled by Dutch national Jonas Van Doorsselaere, 32. Strong winds had initially blown the balloon into some shrubs before Doorsselaere took it up again and landed it in the middle of a nearby road.
Staff of MyBalloon Adventure had earlier stopped traffic to allow the balloon to land and move away in 20 minutes. Commenting on the incident, Director of MyBalloon Adventure Izzati Khairuddin said such landings by hot air balloons were common, subject to the winds.
She said the balloons could land anywhere, but priority was always the safety of the passengers.
Earlier, Yeoh together with Jawi State Assemblyman H’ng Mooi Lye and 15 members of the press rode three hot air balloons provided by the organisers to enjoy a view of the area for 30 minutes at about 600 metres in the air.
New Straits Times press photographer Mohd Danial Saad, 34, said it was an experience for him to go on the hot air balloon trip and learn how to handle it.
Makkal Osai journalist K Murugaiyah, 57, said he would never forget the experience of landing in the balloon in the middle of a road.