updated 10/8/2007 1:14:50 PM ET 2007-10-08T17:14:50

A hot air balloon pilot tried to free his craft after it became stuck Monday, but the balloon’s basket tipped, throwing out a female passenger who fell as much as 70 feet and died, police said.

The balloon got stuck on a fiberoptic line running above a power line about 8 a.m. during an annual balloon festival. The pilot threw down a tether to a pickup truck on the ground to reel the balloon down and free it, state police spokesman Andrew Tingwall said.

The tether broke, and the balloon flew back up, causing its gondola to tip and the woman to fall about 60 to 70 feet to the ground, Tingwall said.

Paramedics tried to revive the woman in a dirt field where she fell, but were unsuccessful, he said. The balloon, meanwhile, flew across a road near Interstate 25 and crash landed, Tingwall said.

The unidentified woman who died was one of four passengers. Tingwall did not know the conditions of the other three passengers or the pilot.

The crash site is about three miles from the launch site for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a nine-day event that began Saturday and features mass ascensions of balloons, events for special shaped balloons and competitions for pilots.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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