WELLINGTON - A hot air balloon burst into flames and crashed in New Zealand on Saturday after hitting a power line, killing all 11 people on board as their families watched on in horror.

The balloon came down in calm weather near Carterton, a small town north of the capital Wellington and a popular area for ballooning, in New Zealand’s worst aviation disaster in more than 30 years.

As the balloon was preparing to land, it hit power lines, causing sparking in the basket carrying the pilot and 10 passengers, police inspector Brent Register said.

“At this point, two of the 11 people onboard, believed to be a male and a female, appear to have jumped from the basket,” he said. Register said the balloon then made a sharp ascent, a fire ignited on board and the balloon plummeted into a paddock. There were no survivors. The passengers were confirmed as five couples from the Wellington region.  Family members of some of those onboard witnessed the tragedy, as they were on the ground waiting for their loved ones to land, The New Zealand Herald said.

Aurea Hickland, who lives next to the crash site, saw the accident happen as she was having breakfast. “It was terrible,” she was quoted as saying by The Herald. “I said to my husband, ‘Oh no, the basket’s on fire, the basket’s on fire’.