1:21pm Monday 16th April 2012
Passengers from a plane which made an emergency landing at Gatwick today were injured while the aircraft was evacuated, it has emerged.
Flights in and out of Gatwick Airport were suspended today after a plane made a full emergency landing amid reports of a small fire on board.
While Virgin Atlantic has confirmed four people were hurt, the Royal Sussex County Hospital said has received two patients and is expecting seven more.
St George's Hospital, Tooting, has confirmed it has received four patients with minor injuries.
South East Coast Ambulance Service said more patients had been taken to other hospitals in the region.
A spokesman said: "After passengers disembarked via the aircraft’s escape chutes, South East Coast Ambulance Service clinicians, supported by specialist paramedic practitioners and duty officers at the airport’s North Terminal, assessed and treated patients who had suffered injuries sustained while evacuating the plane."
No-one is believed to have been seriously injured.
Virgin Atlantic said it is planning to release an updated statement this afternoon.
The airline said the Airbus A330 bound for Orlando in Florida was forced to return and make the landing as a precautionary measure due to a "technical problem".
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service said it was called at 12.21pm to reports of a "small fire on board an aircraft", which had made a full emergency landing. A spokeswoman said six fire appliances were called to the scene.
The plane made a safe landing with emergency services on stand-by, and passengers were disembarked, a Gatwick Airport spokeswoman said.
She said: "A Virgin A330 left Gatwick at 10.48am bound for Orlando but returned to make an emergency landing at 12.30 due to reports of a technical issue.
"The aircraft made a safe landing, the emergency services are on the scene and passengers have been safely disembarked from the plane.
All flights in and out of Gatwick are currently suspended until further notice."
She said passengers involved were being looked after in a specially set-up reception area at the airport.
Virgin Atlantic confirmed that flight VS27 from Gatwick to Orlando had returned to the airport and been evacuated. In a statement, the airline said: "Due to a technical problem on board the aircraft, the captain decided as a precautionary measure to immediately evacuate the aircraft.
"Our teams at Gatwick are now looking after our passengers and assisting with their immediate requirements. "The safety and welfare of our crew and passengers is Virgin Atlantic's top priority."
The airline said the Airbus A330-300 aircraft had 13 crew and 299 passengers on board.
The incident caused knock-on delays to other airlines operating in and out of Gatwick - some incoming flights have been diverted, with some now landing at Stansted Airport in Essex instead.
British Airways warned customers: "Flight delays, diversions and cancellations are expected so if you are due to travel to or from London Gatwick, please check the status of your flight before leaving for the airport."
And easyJet's website said its flights were experiencing "signification disruption" and recommended passengers check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.
Lorna Willson, 23, who works in a building that overlooks the runway, said she saw the immediate aftermath of the landing.
"I was just eating my lunch and I noticed the plane - they usually take off quite quickly but this one didn't go anywhere.
"Then I realised all the chutes were out and there were lots of fire engines and police.
"I think the passengers had been taken off, but you could see a few stewardesses.
"There was quite a lot of emergency services there."
A Gatwick spokeswoman said take-offs and landings had resumed at about 2pm after a stoppage of about one hour 45 minutes.
She went on: "There will be some delays for a time."
Virgin Atlantic said later that there were "four minor injuries" in the incident.
Virgin Atlantic confirmed all passengers and crew safely disembarked.
A spokeswoman said: "Our teams at Gatwick are now offering full support, looking after our passengers and assisting with their immediate requirements.
"Virgin Atlantic is working closely with the authorities to establish the cause of this incident."
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