UK & World News
Emergency Landing At Gatwick: 15 Injured
Fifteen people were hurt when a Virgin Atlantic plane had to make an emergency landing at Gatwick, leading to the suspension of flights in and out of the airport.
The Airbus A330 aircraft, which was heading to Orlando in Florida, turned back amid reports of a small fire on board.
The injured, who were treated in hospitals in southeast England, were among 301 adults and three children on flight VS27 which left Gatwick at 10.48am.
The plane returned to the airport around two hours later and the captain evacuated the aircraft immediately as a precautionary measure.
A spokeswoman for Gatwick said the airport was closed for more than an hour and a half as passengers on the stricken plane used emergency slides to get to safety.
Five had ankle injuries, five suffered spinal or back injuries, two had rib injuries and two had abdominal or stomach injuries. There was also a child with a broken leg.
Ambulance service spokeswoman Dr Jane Pateman: "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."
As a result of the disruption, 26 flights were diverted - some to Stansted airport in Essex - and nine flights were cancelled.
Gatwick re-opened using a backup runway just after 2pm, and flights to and from the airport resumed.
The main runway then re-opened at 3.23pm and Gatwick was described as "fully operational".
A Gatwick statement said: "Passengers should expect some knock on disruptions as a result of the earlier flight suspensions."
Virgin said all passengers and the 13 crew from flight VS27 had safely disembarked.
The travellers were looked after in a special reception area at Gatwick before being transferred to a nearby hotel.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it was called at 12.21pm to reports ofa "small fire on board an aircraft". A spokeswoman said six fire appliances were called to the scene.
Virgin Atlantic's president, Sir Richard Branson, tweeted: "Very sorry to all passengers on board VS27. The staff @virginatlantic are doing everything they can to look after everybody."
The airline said: "Our teams at Gatwick are now offering full support, looking after our passengers and assisting with their immediate requirements.
"We are working closely with the authorities to establish the cause of this incident. The safety and welfare of our crew and passengers is our top priority."
Lorna Willson, 23, who works in a building that overlooks the runway, said she saw the immediate aftermath of the landing.
She went on: "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."
:: Friends and family wanting information about passengers who were on the aircraft can call Virgin Airlines on 0844 209 7777.