Gatwick Airport erupted into chaos as the runway shut with flights being diverted away from the area.

Fire engines were spotted on the runway this afternoon as flights were left stranded in the sky and on taxiways while emergency services responded.

A witness said they saw a plane "leaking fuel" and "damage to the runway".

Planes have been diverted to other airports to avoid Gatwick, including Easyjet flight EZY8126 from Heraklion, Greece - which was sent to Luton Airport and landed shortly before 2.30pm.

Read more: EasyJet plane with no hot sandwiches makes emergency landing at Gatwick

It circled over the county near Hailsham while the incident was ongoing, before heading north - over Gatwick and Windsor - towards Luton along with four other planes which were diverted.

Flight tracking software has revealed long queues of planes on taxiways waiting to take off at the airport just moments before the runway shut for "emergency repairs."

Planes have started to take off once again from the Airport, starting with Vueling flight VY6225 to Rome, which took off over one hour later than scheduled at 4.20pm instead of 3.05pm.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick said: "The main runway was closed for a short time today due to emergency repairs.

"Four flights were diverted. The runway is now open and operating as normal. 

"Safety is our top priority and we apologise to passengers for any inconvenience."