LAS VEGAS: Passengers have spoken of the “mad dash” and “panic” to evacuate a British Airways plane that caught fire on the runway of a Las Vegas airway on Tuesday evening.
Dramatic pictures and videos on social media showed flames and huge plumes of black smoke pouring from the centre of the Boeing 777-200 as it sat on the tarmac at McCarran International Airport. The 159 passengers and 13 crew were evacuated using safety slides as around 50 fire fighters fought to control the blaze.
Seven people were later treated in hospital for minor injuries. Jacob Steinberg, a Guardian sports writer, was on board the plane bound for London. He said the air stewardess had a “look of panic” as they opened the doors and smoke poured into the cabin. “The air stewards were saying ‘stay seated, stay seated’ and some people were panicking, running off.
“Within about a minute or so, suddenly they said ‘evacuate the plane, evacuate the plane’,” he told Sky News. “There was a mad dash to the front of the plane, where thankfully there was no smoke coming in through one of the front doors on the right-hand side of the plane.” “They opened the back door and slide went down and smoke started coming in plane, followed by mad dash to front. A lot of panic,” he added on Twitter.
In the aftermath of the incident a voice recording of the pilot in the moments before the evacuation has emerged. “Speedbird 2276 heavy, we are evacuating on the runway. We have a fire, repeat, we are evacuating.”
The pilot, who was reportedly “pretty shook up” following the incident, has been praised for his actions. He was greeted with a round of applause by passengers after the evacuation. Images on social media showed passengers streaming from the flaming aircraft, many carrying their bags. He told reporters the plane’s engines suffered “catastrophic” failure. Another passenger Jay Jennings, from Southampton, said the experience was “pretty scary”.
He told CNN the plane was preparing for take-off when he heard a big thud. When he lifted the window blind he claims he saw “flames on the
engine”. Dominic Worthington, from London, was also on the flight. He wrote on Twitter: “Scary day, captain and crew saved our lives today”.
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