Scotland

Passenger describes Las Vegas aircraft fire panic

passengers fleeing burning aircraft Image copyright Lynn Alexander
Image caption Passengers ran to safety after escaping down emergency chutes

A Scottish holidaymaker who was on a BA flight that caught fire at Las Vegas airport has described the panic as passengers attempted to escape.

Lynn Alexander said the Boeing 777-200 had been about to take off when she felt a "bit of a bang" and the aircraft came "screeching to a halt".

She said passengers could see smoke billowing from the wing, and there was pushing, shoving and screaming as they tried to get to the emergency chute.

No-one on board was seriously hurt.

But at least 13 people were taken to hospital after suffering minor injuries, airport officials have said.

Inflatable chutes

Most of the injuries were sustained while sliding down inflatable chutes during the evacuation.

US Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the left engine of Flight 2276, which was bound for Gatwick airport, caught fire before take-off. There were 159 passengers and 13 crew on board at the time.

Ms Alexander, who works as a receptionist for BBC Scotland, was on the flight as she returned from a holiday in Las Vegas with her partner.

She said: "I was sitting on the right side of the plane right next to the wing and we saw all of this smoke

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Media captionBA pilot: "Mayday, mayday... we are evacuating"

"My partner thought it was a tyre that had blown but I could smell fuel. Everyone on the left side of the plane was screaming, trying to get out of their seats. The cabin crew were telling them to remain in their seats, trying to keep everybody calm."

The pilot then came over the intercom saying there was to be an emergency evacuation and everyone was to get off the aircraft.

Ms Alexander, from Glasgow, said there was smoke at the front of the aircraft, with everyone on board trying to get to the back. A woman with a young baby was among those caught up in the incident.

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Media captionA Scottish holidaymaker who was on a flight that caught fire at Las Vegas airport describes the panic as passengers tried to escape

She added: "There was a lot of pushing and shoving, screaming, people were terrified and we made it down the emergency chute.

"That was when we saw the left wing - the side that we were all coming out - was where the fire was. The wing was in flames, the smoke was just black.

Image copyright @ericmhays/PA Wire
Image caption It is thought one of the plane's engines suffered a technical fault

"At first you just think its going to be fine, its just something that will be sorted, but when you smell the smoke and you see the panic on everyone's faces it was quite terrifying.

"We got down the chute and we were just running as fast as we could to get away from the plane. People were in tears when we got off the plane."

Ms Alexander, who admitted that she was "not a very good flier anyway" and had been "absolutely terrified" during the incident, said she believed the fire was extinguished by emergency crews within about five minutes.

Ms Alexander said the pilot later told passengers that there had been a "catastrophic failure" with the aircraft.

"It was actually the pilot's penultimate flight before he retired - I think he will be retiring now, to be honest," she added.

"I don't even want to fly home now but I think a boat would take too long - I don't think I would get back to work for Monday."

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