Texas state police confirmed that 16 people died on Saturday in the crash of a hot-air balloon, which eyewitnesses said struck power transmission lines and burst into flames before plunging into a pasture.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the crash, one of the deadliest balloon accidents on record, occurred near Lockhart, about 30 miles (50 km) south of Austin and that at least 16 people were on board the craft.
The FAA did not comment on fatalities, but Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel Law said there did not appear to be any survivors and that his office was working to determine the identities of those aboard.
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety later confirmed that 16 people were dead.
Emergency responders in Texas said the fire hit the basket portion of the hot-air balloon.
The National Transportation Safety Board offered no details on what may have caused the accident, which occurred on a clear day. But a spokesman at the scene said a Federal Bureau of Investigation team was being dispatched to help in evidence-gathering.
The spokesman said the balloon probably belonged to a tour group that offers hot-air balloon rides.
Margaret Wylie, an area resident, told reporters she believed that before the balloon crashed, it hit high power lines, which caused popping sounds like a gun going off.
"It went up like a big fireball," she told reporters, adding the chase group for the balloon arrived on the scene after the sheriff's department.