Virgin plane in Gatwick Airport emergency landing

Passenger Tom Alridge: "I could smell fuel - it smelt like a barbecue"

Flights in and out of Gatwick Airport were suspended after a plane was forced to make an emergency landing when smoke was reported in the cabin.

Virgin flight VS27 had left the West Sussex airport at 11:48 BST and was bound for Orlando in the US when it had to return to land at 12:17

Fifteen people needed hospital treatment after the evacuation, 14 of them for suspected fractures.

Virgin had said only four passengers suffered minor injuries.

Flights have resumed but the airport warned of delays.

Some flights were cancelled or diverted and passengers were advised to check with their airlines for specific information.

Liam Moore, a passenger on the Airbus A330-300 aircraft, which had 13 crew and 299 passengers on board, said everybody was "really shaken up".

"We were on the plane and everything seemed fine," he said.

'Doors flung open'

"Then the pilot came on the Tannoy about 10 minutes into the flight and said we would have to do an emergency landing.

"It all happened so quickly. We landed and suddenly all the doors flung open and the emergency slides were inflated."

David Davis, ambulance service: "Five patients had suspected broken arms and legs"

Another passenger, Mark Bell, from Bracknell, said: "I knew something was wrong when we took off.

"The plane was really wobbly. The cabin crew made things worse. They were all really panicked.

"We weren't told anything other than we had to go back to Gatwick and make an emergency landing."

Tom Alridge said one of the cabin crew panicked upon landing.

"She was screaming - 'Get off, get off' - she was literally pushing people down the chute," he said.

'Small fire'

"Someone has a broken ankle, another guy hit his head when he went down the chute, others have cuts and bruises."

Dr Jane Pateman, medical director for the South East Coast Ambulance Service, said several people were injured using the plane's escape chutes.

"A total of 15 patients were transferred to hospital, 14 of which went to two major trauma centres, at St George's Hospital and Royal Sussex County Hospital suffering from suspected fractures," she said.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it was called to reports of a "small fire on board an aircraft".

A spokeswoman said six fire appliances were called to the scene but actually dealt with a small fire on the undercarriage caused by the emergency landing.

A Gatwick Airport spokeswoman said the plane made a "safe emergency landing" and take-offs and landings had resumed at about 14:00 BST.

"There will be some delays for a time," she said.

A statement from Virgin Atlantic said the cause of the incident was under investigation.

It 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."

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