Balloon Britons ditch in Pacific

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AN ATTEMPT by two Britons to circumnavigate the world by hot- air balloon ended early yes-terday with snow pouring over the capsule as it ditched into the Pacific Ocean 50 miles south-west of Tokyo.

Pilots Andy Elson and Colin Prescot were safe and well despite aborting their flight after circumventing China. They have set an unofficial world flight endurance record of 17 days, 18 hours and 25 minutes.

Mr Elson, 45, of Wells, Somerset, and Mr Prescot, 48, of Stockbridge, Hampshire, had gone 12,200 miles - more than two thirds of their intended course around the globe - since leaving Almeria in southern Spain on 17 February.

Speaking from the Japanese Self Defence Forces' base in Hamamatsu, Mr Prescot described how he screamed himself hoarse with instructions to Mr Elson, who sat on the roof of the capsule to guide them down. The two men were rescued second later by a Japanese military helicopter.