LONDON, (Reuters) – Fifteen people were injured when a Virgin Atlantic plane made an emergency landing today at London’s second airport, Gatwick, the airport said.
The Virgin Airbus A330 aircraft, which was travelling to Orlando in the United States, was forced to turn back soon after take-off due to a fire in the hold, according to media reports.
Passengers suffered injuries, including suspected fractures and cuts as they escaped the aircraft using the emergency chutes.
Passenger Kirsty Bonwick said passengers came down straight onto concrete.
“A lot of people were hurt, breaking their arms and elbows and bleeding,” she told Sky News.
David Davis, of the ambulance service, said a range of injuries were being treated.
“People with suspected broken ankles and legs and arms and people suffering with pain which could be indicative of injuries in their back and spine,” he said. “There are other people with abdominal injuries, or suspected abdominal injuries.”
The injured were among 13 crew and 299 passengers on the flight which left Gatwick just before 11 a.m. local time.
The incident led to the temporary suspension of flights in and out of the airport, leading to some knock-on delays.
“Due to a technical problem on board the aircraft, the captain decided as a precautionary measure to immediately evacuate the aircraft,” Virgin said in a statement.
“Our teams at Gatwick are now looking after our passengers and assisting with their immediate requirements.”
Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Steve Ridgeway told Sky News he could not confirm reports by some passengers on Twitter that they had seen smoke in the cabin. “I have just been with the passengers and none of them mentioned that to me,” he said.
Virgin Group owner, British billionaire Richard Branson, posted a message on Twitter apologising to passengers on flight number VS27 and saying staff were doing all they could to look after them.