Tributes Paid to Balloon Accident Victims

Couple were "part of family" at Lots Road Auctions

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Colleagues at Lots Road Auctions have paid tribute to their colleagues Joe Bampton, 40, and his girlfriend Suzanna Gyetvai, 34, who were among 19 tourists who died in Tuesday's horrific hot air balloon crash near Luxor in Egypt.

Mr Bampton and Ms Gyetvai, who lived at Clapham, both worked as valuers at the well known auction house, on the borders of Fulham and Chelsea. She was a general valuer, while he specialised in rugs, carpets and antiques.

Managing director Roger Ross told the Daily Telegraph he considered Mr Bampton " as a son" while senior auctioneer Nick Carter told the Sun: " We are all frightfully shocked.

" They had spoken a lot about going on this trip to Egypt. They had mentioned the balloon trip to other members of staff - Joe wanted to see the sunrise. They were two people very much in love and a lovely couple."

Ms Gyetvai, who was originally from Hungary, was a contemporary artist using the professional name Zsi Chimera. She specialised in areas including silk-screen printing, etching and collage and exhibited her work in fairs and galleries across London.

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Mr Bampton, who grew up in Wallasey in Merseyside, studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and exhibited his work in London, Liverpool, Paris and Berlin.

Joe Bampton

His colleague Mr Carter added: 'The word I would use to describe Joe is very peaceful. He was a very gentle and quiet man, laid back and happy. Joe came to us in the mid nineties. He had been with us for a long time and we knew him very well. We are all very close here, like a family.

"It is very tragic. It's a very hard thing to come to terms with, it's like losing a brother. Joe's death will leave a huge hole. We are all just in shock at the moment.'

Miss Gyetvai was a Hungarian working in the valuations department as an administrator.

He said: 'Suzanna was a lovely girl. She was incredibly pretty and a very popular member of staff. She had been with us for three years and was part of the family. It is incredibly sad."

The cause of the crash is still being investigated, but is believed the balloon had been in the process of landing when a landing cable got caught around a gas tube and a fire erupted on board. The balloon then quickly gained altitude before the fire caused the gas canister to explode.

Balloon rides are a popular way to see the numerous ancient sites which line the banks of the River Nile at Luxor, in the south of Egypt, such as the temple of Karnak and the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

February 28, 2013